No Go…William Hill & Amaya end merger talks

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The £5 billion merger between FTSE-listed William Hill Plc and Toronto TSX Amaya Inc has been abandoned. This morning both William Hill and Amaya governances’ updated investors declaring that the companies had withdrawn from merger talks.

Issuing a corporate statement, William Hill detailed that it received ‘canvassing views from a number of major shareholders’.

Last week London hedge fund Parvus, William Hill’s largest investor (14.3% shareholding) criticised the bookmaker’s governance for even considering the ‘merger of equals’ with Amaya.

Parvus leader Mads Eg Gensmann would refer to the potential merger as a ‘value-destroying deal’ with little logic from William Hill’s perspective.

The hedge fund would further note that the company would be burdened by consuming Amaya’s corporate debt and that William Hill governance had previously rejected a higher merger bid of 392 per share from a Rank-888 consortium in August.

Since its first announcement on 8 October, the majority of city and industry analysts have been cool on the prospect of a William Hill-Amaya merger, noting concerns regarding the complexity of a ‘cross-Atlantic’ all share merger.

William Hill governance stated that the company would now focus on four priorities; ‘digital enhancement, technology deliver, corporate efficiencies and international expansion’ under the leadership of Interim CEO Philip Bowcock.

Updating the market on its position, Amaya Governance stated that its ‘special committee’ would continue to review “strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value’.

Furthermore, Amaya governance detailed that it was informed by its former CEO, David Baazov, that he continues to be interested in acquiring all of the outstanding shares in the company. However, Baazov and his representatives are  yet to place a formal offer for Amaya assets.

 

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