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Caesars Starts the Bidding for William Hills’ European Assets

24/05/2021; 8:12 AM By : Steven D. Thompson

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Caesars Entertainment recently announced plans to commence bidding on William Hill’s domestic assets. The renowned American Casino and resorts chain took over the British heritage bookmaker earlier last month.

According to The Telegraph, Caesars plans to sell all of William Hill’s 1,400 high street shops in the UK and Ireland apart from assets in England and other parts of Europe. Experts believe Caesars could generate over $1.5 billion from the sale.

With clear intentions of dominating the American gambling industry, Caesars had 2previously announced plans to sell all of William Hill’s non-US assets. The deal was finalized at £2.9 billion at £2.72 per share.

The Major Contenders in the Bidding War

Among the frontrunners is US private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The group was previously one of Caesars’ biggest rivals in the race to acquire William Hill. If victorious, Apollo Global will acquire all of William Hill’s European assets and merge them with its Italian subsidiary Gamenet.

Bidding against Apollo is the Israeli Shaked business family, the majority stakeholders behind 888 Holdings. Itai Pazner, the CEO of 888 Holdings, has on numerous previous occasions explicitly expressed his desire to acquire William Hill.

“We have mentioned William Hill before, and that is something we will be looking at in the future. I have no intention of changing my comment”, Itai revealed. 

888’s interest in expansion doesn’t come as a shock, especially since business has been booming for a while. 888 Holding’s revenue increased by 56% to $272.5 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Other potential candidates for the bid are the owners of the British retail chain Betfred. Fred Done, one of the owners, is reportedly interested only in William Hill’s extensive betting stores in the region. Done plans to rebrand the shops and use them for his own business.

Swedish gambling operator Kindred is reportedly interested in incorporating William Hill’s existing infrastructure into its operations. However, Apollo is still the frontrunner till the time of publication.

Rebranding William Hill’s US Assets

Desperate to leave its mark in the domestic sports betting circuit, Caesars recently struck many high-value deals with ESPN and the NFL. The American casino chain is one of the league’s three official sports betting partners and sits alongside DraftKings and FanDuel.

Caesars is the official odds provider for the ESPN network. This is crucial as the latter recently integrated sports betting elements into its network. Such aggressive marketing, advertising, and enhanced visibility bode well for the future. And Caesars is looking to cash in on the opportunity.

Caesars is hopeful of completing the sale of William Hill’s European assets by the end of the year. Chief Executivector Tom Reeg explained that the firm plans to aggressively reinvest the proceeds and expects William Hill’s British investors to be conservative regarding leverage.

Commenting on the deal, Reeg said, “One of my major gripes with some companies when I was an investor was, they didn’t know what they were good at. And while I can’t tell you that we’re not good at running our non-US assets at the time. There are other, far more capable institutions that will do a far better job than us”. 

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