In a recent development, 888 Holdings Plc, the owner of William Hill, reportedly rejected a substantial takeover offer from Playtech in July, amounting to nearly $890 million. According to sources cited by The Sunday Times, discussions between 888 and Playtech in July explored the possibility of merging the target with Playtech's Italian betting unit, Snai, and subsequently spinning off its business-to-business unit.
The summer proved to be eventful for 888, as it was revealed last month that DraftKings engaged in takeover talks with the parent company of William Hill at some point during the same period. DraftKings contemplated an all-stock acquisition of 888, a company that has long been the subject of takeover rumors.
Negotiations between DraftKings and 888 reportedly came to a halt shortly after FS Gaming Investments, led by former GVC CEO Kenny Alexander, disclosed a 6.57% stake in 888. This move raised regulatory concerns, leading the Great Britain Gaming Commission (GBGC) to review William Hill's license due to alleged irregularities in the way GVC, under Alexander's leadership, divested a Turkish business.
Considering current exchange rates between the British Pound and the US Dollar, Playtech's offer for 888 was valued at $889.65 million. In hindsight, it appears that 888 might have made a prudent decision in rejecting the offer, given that the gaming company's market capitalization has since declined by $381.28 million. This decrease followed 888's payment of $765 million to Caesars Entertainment in 2022 for the international operations of William Hill.
888 and Playtech have had a longstanding partnership, with the latter operating internet casino games on the former's platform. The collaboration expanded last year into the rapidly growing US iGaming market.
While 888 has frequently been the subject of takeover speculation and attracted interest from various competitors, the company's management seems committed to navigating its path independently, at least for the time being. Despite concluding 2022 with a high debt-to-capital ratio and outstanding liabilities totaling $3.55 billion, 888 doesn't face any debt maturities until 2027. This suggests the company has some financial flexibility and isn't compelled to sell in the near term to alleviate debt concerns.
However, 888's relatively low market capitalization and the strong brand recognition of William Hill among European bettors could still prompt other potential suitors to explore takeover offers.
In response to these developments, Howard Mittman, US division president for 888, emphasized the significance of the partnership with Playtech, stating, "This agreement will enhance the overall player experience by offering more entertaining and dynamic games, which is a key part of our content and product leadership strategy. We look forward to welcoming Playtech’s content and growing our partnership together."
The dynamics of 888's position in the market and the ongoing interest from various players make the company's strategic decisions a focal point in the evolving landscape of the iGaming industry.
By fLEXI tEAM