888 Holdings Closer to William Hill Takeover Following Shareholder Vote

Posted on: May 16, 2022, 09:37h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2022, 10:09h.

888 Holdings has crossed a major threshold in its planned acquisition of William Hill’s non-US assets. The gaming operator’s shareholders have approved the deal, which will allow it to possibly close next month.

William Hill
A William Hill betting shop in the UK. Soon, the company will officially become part of the 888 Holdings umbrella. (Image: Flickr)

After Caesars Entertainment bought William Hill last year and announced its plans to unload the sportsbook’s non-US assets, 888 Holdings was one of the companies that showed interest. It ultimately proved to be the only one standing, and has been crunching numbers to work a deal ever since.

It took some negotiating and juggling, but 888 reached an agreement in April that gave it more favorable terms. That, together with regulatory approval, was enough to appease company shareholders. They have signed off on the purchase, with 99.73% saying yes. Only 0.27% said no, while a small percentage didn’t bother participating in the vote.

Close to the Finish Line

Technically, the acquisition is a reverse takeover. William Hill controls more assets than does 888, another reason the deal needed shareholder support.

The shareholder approval was one of the last remaining hurdles to jump. The overwhelming support shows the benefits of the deal. That is further solidifying 888’s decision to spend around $3 billion to become an even larger global gaming powerhouse.

Previously, 888 and William Hill thought they would wrap things up in the first quarter of this year. But that was later pushed back to the second quarter. With the shareholder support in place, the acquisition will move forward, and the final transition will happen before the end of June.

At the same time, 888’s share capital will reappear on the Financial Conduct Authority’s list of authorized companies. It will also begin to trade on the London Stock Exchange primary market. That will serve as a catalyst to reinvigorate the company’s financial status, which dropped this year due to slower activity and a major, $12.6-million fine.

888 is confident that it will get that boost. The company said that, if it had been able to complete the transaction last year, it would have generated revenue of around $2.1 billion and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of approximately $437 million.

More Global Growth Potential

Logically, the addition of William Hill’s non-US assets gives 888 greater gaming reach. The sportsbook has 1,400 betting shops in the UK and controls online brands Mr Green and Redbet. In addition, the acquisition paves the way for even further growth beyond the accumulation of the sportsbook’s direct assets.

888 will gain new positions in regulated markets and be better able to address challenges that operators face in those markets. In addition, the company expects to see substantial cost synergies through the acquisition, which could bring in savings of up to $122.65 million within three years.

Once it completes the acquisition, 888 will be the third-largest publicly-traded online gaming operator in the world, according to the company. It will be able to offer an “attractive omnichannel opportunity” in the UK and to increase its scale significantly.

That may take a while. William Hill’s European business reported a net loss of $281.38 million last year, despite a 7.3% year-on-year increase in revenue. That figure was $1.52 billion, 14.7% lower than in 2019.

Over half of the 2021 revenue came from online operations in the UK. This segment increased by 25%, reaching $7.7 million. However, retail lost 4.9% of its 2020 performance, and 53% from 2019.