Done eyes William Hill estates in potential UK chop-up

Betfred founder Fred Done is reported to be eyeing a swoop of William Hill’s UK retail estates at a discount price, as rumours circulate as to how Caesars Entertainment will reshape the company, following this morning’s approval of its £2.9 billion takeover offer. 

Done has been branded as the big winner of the Caesars deal, having built a 6% stake in William Hill since March, cashing in on the FTSE betting group’s pandemic fallout price of 36p per share.

This morning’s announcement that William Hill governance approved Caesars’ bid will see Done pocket a reported £170 million, prompting rumours that Betfred may plan to acquire William Hill’s retail portfolio.

Since the enforcement of the UK government’s £2 FOBTs stake reduction in April 2019, William Hill has been forced to drastically reduce its retail estate and rethink its UK strategy – incurring an impairment charge of £800 million on the firm’s 2019 accounts.

Yet to release a deal prospectus on how it will incorporate William Hill’s assets, Caesars executive team is reported to favour the bookmaker turbocharging its aggressive sportsbook expansion across all regulated US states – in which an enlarged Caesars has secured the biggest domestic casino footprint having completed its $17 billion merger with Eldorado resorts.

Caesars’ focus on developing US wagering’s first mass-market sportsbook may see the casino giant offload William Hill’s entire UK business, both retail and online.

Since taking leadership of William Hill just over a year ago, the FTSE betting group has recouped its online growth momentum under the stewardship of Group CEO Ulrik Bengtsson.

An offload of William Hill’s online arm would appear as an attractive prospect to potential private equity investors, maintaining the firm’s presence in the UK’s lucrative but consolidated online gambling space.

This morning’s announcement sees William Hill finally secure its future following months of corporate rumours with regards to potential bids, mergers and acquisitions, as Hills undertakes its US makeover. 

 

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