The takeover of William Hill’s European arm will be completed by the end of June, representatives of 888 have confirmed.
The firm’s shareholders have signed off on the deal, was initially thought to be worth around £2.2 billion, with a staggering 99.73% of stock-holders giving the thumbs up to the bid.
However, it has been reported that the final sum that will exchange hands is between £1.95 to £2.05 billion to reflect the changing ‘macro-economic and regulatory environment’, and that will result in 888 saving about £250 million on the initial cash consideration that they will pay.
The takeover battle, which saw 888 duke it out with private equity firm Apollo Global Management, will see the global brand take over the running of William’s Hill wide-ranging operations in Europe, which includes online brands Mr Green and Redbet as well as more than 1,400 betting shops up and down the UK.
The non-executive chairman of 888, Lord Mendelsohn, said of the deal:
“We are delighted with the support of our shareholders for our proposed acquisition of William Hill, and would like to thank them for their continued, constructive engagement as part of this process.
“We look forward to completing this transformational acquisition at the end of June, creating a global online betting and gaming leader through the combination of two highly complementary businesses and two of the industry’s leading brands.”
It means that the William Hill brand will now essentially cease to exist, with their US-facing operation now acquired and renamed by Caesars Entertainment.
Back in April, it was confirmed that 888 were launching a so-called ‘cash raise’ – one of the biggest of the year to date according to Sky News.
They planned to raise at least £500 million through the issue of new shares, a process overseen by investment banking firms Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan.
However, the process was complicated by the fact that 888’s share price has fallen since the news of the takeover was revealed, meaning that they will need to issue more shares than they would have six months or so ago.
To generate the interest required, 888 chiefs have claimed that the new ‘diversified revenue base’ across a wider geography, with William Hill and its subsidiaries popular in the UK, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia, would ensure that investors could secure a gain on their capital.
The strength of 888 in online casino gaming and poker would be complimented by William Hill’s sports betting specialty, insiders also intimated.
But shares in 888 have, for the most part, flatlined since September’s high of £478, and they are now trading as low as £193 each – impacting upon the viability of the firm’s equity raise.
They have also reported falling yields in the first quarter of 2022, with an 18% drop in revenue for the same period last year – driven by an 8% fall in ‘active players’.
However, all parties have confirmed a target date of June 30 for completion.