Apollo Seen as Leading Contender for William Hill Assets, But Entain Lurking

Posted on: July 4, 2021, 01:37h. 

Last updated on: August 2, 2021, 01:07h.

Private equity behemoth Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) is rumored to be in the pole position to win William Hill’s international businesses. But Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) could be mulling a bid, too, according to reports on the matter.

William Hill
A William Hill betting shop in London. Apollo is seen as the leader for the company’s non-US assets. (Image: Yahoo Finance)

Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) paid about $3.7 billion to acquire William Hill earlier this year. But it’s widely known the Las Vegas-based casino operator wants to shed the British company’s non-US assets. Caesars already commenced an auction for the UK firm’s 1,400 betting shops and European online gaming unit. Interested bidders must submit initial proposals by Tuesday. For now, it appears Apollo is well-positioned to emerge victorious.

It is Apollo’s to lose,” an unidentified source with knowledge of the matter told The Telegraph.

Last year, the private equity company made a run at William Hill as a whole. But Caesars management leveraged a long-standing accord with the British company relating to US sports betting operations, saying that deal would be scrapped if William Hill opted for another suitor’s offer. Apollo swiftly changed direction and made clear its intent to focus on the non-US businesses.

Apollo Leading Makes Sense

As The Telegraph article notes, Apollo already performed due diligence on William Hill, so it has intimate knowledge of the assets Caesars is looking to sell.

Additionally, the private equity company has deep pockets and can easily afford Caesars’ asking price. Previously, it was rumored that William Hill’s international assets could fetch up to $2 billion, or perhaps more. But that figure is now believed to be around $1.65 billion.

It’s believed the private equity company sees potential synergies between William Hill’s European operations and its other gambling holding. That’s the Italian digital gaming, gaming machine, and sports wagering assets its Gamenet Group S.p.A affiliate paid $1.15 billion to acquire last December.

Apollo is likely to face plenty of competition for the William Hill businesses. Rivals could include 888 Holdings, Betfred, Entain, and perhaps Swedish companies Betsson and Kindred. That’s because of William Hill’s established presence and brand recognition in that country.

How Entain Fits In

With its stock soaring, the Coral and Ladbrokes owner could easily make a run at the William Hill assets. However, Entain already holds considerable market share in the UK. That means an acquisition in that region could be duplicative. and potentially raise regulatory concerns.

Sources tell The Telegraph the operator could be engaging in more of a “benchmarking exercise” to get a sense for what its European assets are worth. The company was approached by MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) — its partner on the BetMGM business in the US — with an $11 billion takeover offer earlier this year. That bid was ultimately turned back.

Should Entain make a credible offer for the William Hill units, it would represent a second front on which it’s tussling with Apollo. In Australia, the two companies are vying for Tabcorp’s media and sports wagering businesses. In that competition, Entain is viewed as the leader.