Tabcorp to Keep Apollo, Entain Waiting on Divestment Decision for Another Month

Posted on: May 21, 2021, 12:37h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2021, 02:19h.

Tabcorp will keep suitors for its media and sports wagering businesses on hold for at least another month. The board of the Australian company meets on June 20.

A bettor holds Tabcorp slips in Australia. The company could take another month to decide on selling two businesses. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) and Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) are viewed as the prime bidders for the Tabcorp units, which have been ensconced in takeover speculation for over two months. With offers trickling in and the Aussie company under pressure from investors to extract some value from the media and betting divisions, it initiated a strategic review of the businesses — one that’s ongoing.

The understanding is that both groups (Apollo and Entain) are unlikely to gain any insight into whether they will be granted due diligence to take a closer look at the business until after the June 20 date,” reports The Australian.

The strategic review commenced in late March and is being advised by Swiss investment bank UBS. Owing to the recent time line of gaming deals morphing from rumors to confirmed offers to targets accepting bids, it’s reasonable to surmise Apollo and Entain were hoping to have gained more clarity on Tabcorp’s plans by now.

For Tabcorp, Much to Consider

The Australian company has a lot to ponder because the Apollo and Entain offers are remarkably similar.

Recently, the private equity firm revealed a $3.1 billion bid for the Tabcorp assets. But that includes a sweetener in the form of an offer for the Aussie operator’s gaming services unit. That business isn’t part of the strategic review. Remove it from the equation and Apollo is offering $2.7 billion for the media and sports betting divisions, the same proposal laid forth by Entain.

Additionally, analysts are voicing concern that should Tabcorp accept Apollo’s offer, the suitor may not be able to clear Australian regulatory hurdles because of a perceived lack of sportsbook operational experience. Conversely, Entain is already established in the Land Down Under, controlling more than four percent of the horse racing and sports betting market there.

The Tabcorp businesses aren’t the only fronts on which Apollo and Entain are competing. Both are reportedly likely bidders for William Hill’s non-US assets. Caesars Entertainment will soon put those businesses up for sale with the aim of deciding on a buyer in the second half of 2021.

Potential Wild Cards for Tabcorp

While Apollo and Entain for the Tabcorp board to meet and make a decision, there’s the possibility that other suitors could emerge with more favorable offers. That could compel the board to, at the very least, evaluate those proposals.

For example, reports surfaced two months ago that media conglomerate Fox Corp. could make a run at the Tabcorp businesses. While that’s just speculation, for now, it’s well known that the company wants to expand its sports wagering footprint.

Additionally, Fox has intimate ties to Australia and deep pockets with which to make a credible offer to Entain.