MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle Puts Kibosh on Revisiting Entain Bid

Posted on: February 9, 2023, 01:22h. 

Last updated on: February 9, 2023, 03:11h.

MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is unlikely to revisit a takeover bid for Entain Plc (OTC: GMVHY) — its partner in the BetMGM business.

MGM Entain
MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle at a 2021 industry convention. He said his company won’t pursue a takeover of Entain. (Image: Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent)

MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle made comments to that effect on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference Wednesday afternoon, saying “we’ve moved on” in response to a question from Bank of America analyst Shaun Kelley.

So for now, the answer is no, not within Entain. We’re going to go down our own direction, and we begin to allocate capital,” said Hornbuckle. “We value the relationship with Entain. We value BetMGM. But as it comes to rest of the world, we’re going to move forward with a different proposition.”

Hornbuckle added the company is happy to move forward with its recently completed acquisition of Sweden’s LeoVegas, which gives the Las Vegas-based company a broader foothold in Europe while expanding its presence in Ontario, Canada.

MGM Dashes Entain Takeover Hopes

In January 2021, the Cosmopolitan operator bid $11.06 billion for Entain, which dismissed the offer as inadequate. Since then, Entain has remained a topic of takeover speculation and later that year, DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) doubled MGM’s offer for the Ladbrokes owner. But those talks fell apart.

In the subsequent two years, owing in large part to the growth of BetMGM, rumors swirled that MGM would come back to the bargaining table with a fresh offer for Entain. That speculation recently intensified amid reports an offer could emerge following the upcoming release of the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) regulatory white paper.

It appears MGM will deal with the 50/50 split on BetMGM it shares with Entain. While the subject wasn’t broached on the conference call, MGM could move to buy out Entain’s share of BetMGM. That wouldn’t be cheap, but it would be significantly more cost-effective than acquiring the Coral owner outright.

For now, it appears that MGM is content to direct capital allocation plans to tend its maturing debt and a newly announced $2 billion share repurchase program.

MGM M&A Still Possible

While an Entain deal is off the table for the time being, MGM has a recently acquisitive history. On the conference call, CFO Jonathan Halkyard noted acquisitions could be the avenue through which the company bolsters its interactive unit.

When you talk studio business or even live dealer, the technology aspect of that is on our scale, relatively de minimis. When you talk about stepping up to other marketplaces, whether it’s South America over time, or [the] rest of Europe, we’ll have to take a different view on that as these opportunities unfold. But for now, it’s more bolt-on and relatively small,” added Honbuckle.

The Mandalay Bay operator concluded 2022 with $5.91 billion in cash and cash equivalents, up from $4.70 billion a year earlier, indicating the company has the capital needed for deals.