Entain Considers Acquisition of William Hill’s Non-US Assets

Following Caesars Entertainment’s announcement that it intends to sell William Hill’s non-US business, UK-based Entain has expressed an interest in acquiring the assets. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A new acquisition opportunity

Entain has demonstrated a clear desire for new acquisitions over recent months, making offers in the Swedish and Australian markets. Now, the Ladbrokes owner has expressed interest in the assets of UK-based sportsbook operator William Hill following its merger with Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars completed its $4bn acquisition of William Hill last month. As part of that merger, the casino giant outlined plans to sell William Hill’s non-US assets. CEO Tom Reeg confirmed the company will go ahead with those plans over the next two months.

we’re certainly also looking at whether this could be an interesting opportunity”

As reported by Bloomberg, Entain chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen has indicated that the company would be interested in those assets. “We’re looking at everything, so we’re certainly also looking at whether this could be an interesting opportunity,” the executive commented in a recent interview.

What could be on offer?

During Caesars Entertainment’s Q1 conference call earlier this month, Reeg said the company expects to offload William Hill’s non-US assets within 12 months. The company will search for a suitable buyer over the rest of the year, and expects to generate an estimated $2bn through the sale.

William Hill’s non US business made up more than 80% of the operator’s sales last year. Its assets include many UK land-based properties, with the company currently holding around 21% of the UK retail betting market, or 1,414 betting shops. Entain meanwhile holds a 43% market share through its Ladbrokes brand.

Betfred currently holds the second highest market share in UK retail betting, with a total of 23%. Other sportsbooks, including Paddy Power and Coral, make up the remaining 13%.

With such a large market share on offer however, Entain could experience some regulatory issues if it does ulimately purchase William Hill’s UK business. The company also faces competition from Apollo Global Management, with the investment company reportedly the leading candidate for the sale.

Entain splashes the cash

Sports betting operator Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings, has had a busy year so far. In January, the company rejected an $11bn takeover offer from MGM Resorts International. At the time, Entain said the price “significantly undervalues the company.”

Just days after rebuffing MGM’s bid, Entain made an offer to purchase Swedish sports betting company Enlabs AB. In March, the company announced that 94.2% of Enlabs shareholders had accepted its revised and final bid of $440m. The company currently operates gambling brands such as NinjaCasino, Laimz, and Optibet in the Swedish market.

Entain increased its offer to AU$3.5bn (US$2.71bn) last month

At the same time, Entain has also made moves in the Australian market by offering to purchase the wagering and media arm of operator Tabcorp. After its first AU$3bn (US$2.32bn) bid met rejection, Entain increased its offer to AU$3.5bn (US$2.71bn) last month. Market and industry sources have suggested Tabcorp shareholders will support the new offer.

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