Clicks to bricks: 888 Holdings acquisition of William Hill’s UK retail estate agreed by Caesars

888 Holdings aquisition of William Hill retail esate
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With Caesars Entertainment disinterested in keeping the part of its William Hill acquisition that includes the bookmaker’s UK retail estate, 888 Holdings has swooped in to acquire the 1,400-strong portfolio of betting shops from the US casino giant for circa £2.2bn.

 

888 Holdings will be the new owner of William Hill’s 1,400 betting shops after its £2.2 billion offer was agreed by Caesars Entertainment – a step that will take it from online to on the British high streets.

The online operator had confirmed its strong interest in William Hill’s UK and European operations after outbidding Apollo Global Management with an estimated bid of more than £2 billion, according to The Times.

That bid seems to have shifted upwards slightly, leaving 888 to receive formal approval from its shareholders and then an official step into retail sometime in the first quarter of 2022.

It was a cagey journey to today’s (Thursday 9 September) announcement. And at £2.2bn at stake, it’s no surprise. Over the weekend the online giant stated: “888 notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it is in advanced discussions with Caesars Entertainment regarding a possible acquisition of the international (non-US) business of William Hill,” said the company in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

“There can be no certainty that these advanced discussions will result in a transaction,” clarified the Gibraltar-based company. “A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

Well now it is.

888’s winning offer presents a shot in the arm for British retail – £2.2 bn representing huge confidence that the UK retail sector is still sought after despite 18 months of limited trading and a much reported long term decline.

888 will have some work to do though – Covid and lockdown did take its toll on the William Hill estate which saw its UK betting shops revenue down 30 percent last year. But 888 have the funds to invest: it produced a 39 percent revenue increase for H1 2021, posting a record half-year revenue of $528 million. It also saw over 50 percent UK revenue growth, which it will hope to capitalise on with the acquisition of William Hill’s retail portfolio as players – many of whom have been forced to bet online only for the last 18 months – have started returning to betting shops for a more social experience.


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