888 on track to acquire William Hill assets in Q1 of 2022

| By Robert Fletcher
888 has said it is on track to compete its acquisition of William Hill’s non-US assets from Caesars Entertainment in the first quarter of 2022 after securing a series of regulatory approvals.
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The operator agreed in September to purchase the non-US business for £2.2bn (€2.6bn/$2.9bn), in a deal it said would create a global online betting and gaming leader.

The acquisition will also see the online-only 888 move into the retail channel for the first time, should it opt to retain the William Hill retail estate.

As part of the acquisition process, 888 has over the past few months secured all mandatory anti-trust and gaming regulatory clearances.

The deal is still subject to the satisfaction of certain other remaining conditions, including the approval of 888’s shareholders, with a meeting and subsequent vote set to take place early next year. The shareholder circular and prospectus, required for shareholders to vote on the deal, are set to be issued in early 2022.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority must approve the re-admission of 888 ordinary shares to the premium listing segment of its Official List, while the London Stock Exchange is also required to approve re-admission to trading on the main market for listed securities.

In addition, the William Hill group must be reorganised to separate the US and non-US businesses.

Should all these conditions be met, 888 said the acquisition could complete in Q1 next year.

The operator said integration planning has also progressed well. It has appointed Guy Cohen as senior vice president and director of integration to assist with this process. Cohen, who was previously senior vice president and head of B2C at 888, will work with the senior team at William Hill to advance integration preparations ahead of the deal completing.

888 also reiterated plans to raise approximately £500m by issuing new equity in a capital raise, with this expected to take place prior to the acquisition being finalised.

“This transaction will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, leading technology, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth, supported by a portfolio of iconic brands,” 888 chief executive Itai Pazner said.

“The appointment of Guy Cohen also strengthens our leadership and commitment to this important process, as we look to leverage the significant expertise and talent from both businesses to benefit the combined group.

“I’m delighted that we have now checked off a number of important milestones towards completion of the acquisition. Given the strong progress we have made, we now expect the transaction to complete in the first quarter of 2022 and are excited about the opportunities ahead of us as we combine two powerful and complementary businesses.”

The William Hill International business currently operates as part of Caesars Entertainment, which acquired the entire William Hill group in April 2021 in a deal worth £2.9bn. However, Caesars made clear the target of the purchase was William Hill’s US business and that it would seek to sell the international division.

Caesars in May said it was to begin the process of selling off William Hill’s non-US assets over the summer, with the aim of finding a buyer and completing the sale within one year.

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