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888 forecasts revenue drop ahead of William Hill acquisition

| By Richard Mulligan
888 Holdings expects to announce a dip in revenues for the first half of the year due to stricter regulations in the UK and its temporary withdrawal from the Netherlands.

The group released a trading update today as it outlined the finer details of plans to raise £1.7bn of funded debt to finance its planned acquisition of William Hill’s international business, which is expected to complete on 1 July.

It has forecast revenue to come in at £330m-335m for the six months to 30 June 2022, which is down from revenue of $528.4m (£431.8m) in the same period last year.

888 said the performance so far this year is broadly in line with board expectations, with growth in certain European markets offset by the impact of additional safer gambling measures as well as the temporary exit from the Netherlands.

888 generated revenues of £690m and adjusted EBITDA of £109m for the 12 months ending 28 February 2022. It said that the international (non-US) business of William Hill generated revenue of £1.37bn and adjusted EBITDA of £238m for the 52 weeks ending 22 February 2022.

888 said in a statement: “The performance of both businesses largely reflects a continuation of the trends outlined in the prospectus dated 29 April 2022, with the positive impact of retail reopening and strong performances across a number of regulated countries being offset by the closure of the Netherlands and the impact of additional safer gambling measures within the UK online segments of both businesses.”

888 said it will market £1.02bn of debt today and enter into over £750m worth of loan facilities ahead of the completion of its acquisition of William Hill from Caesars Entertainment. The cash will be used to finance the proposed acquisition, as well as servicing of the debt and fees owed by the group and paying fees related to the transaction.

The loan facilities will each mature in 2028, and will initially be held and funded by one or more of the underwriters. The group said it also expects to enter into a £150m revolving credit facility.

888 said in May that the £1.95bn acquisition price will also include approximately £200m in equity and £200m in 888 cash.

The acquisition price was knocked down from an initially agreed £2.15bn, after it was revealed that William Hill faced a licence review in the UK.

In April, 888 reported an 18% year-on-year drop in revenue for the first quarter of its 2022 financial year. Revenue for the three months through to 31 March amounted to $224m (£172m/€207m), down from $273m in the corresponding period last year.

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