888 Holdings and Rank Group Target William Hill Acquisition

Reports have been made that major casino and gambling operators 888 Holdings and Rank Group are negotiating to create a £2billion merger.

Speeding up the pace of the UK gambling market consolidation, the two operators are in “relatively advanced” talks on the merger, and assuming the deal goes through, the two would then make a £3billion play to acquire bookmaker William Hill, creating a truly full spectrum gambling operator.

Subsequently, 888 and Rank issued a joint statement announcing that they saw “significant industrial logic” in acquiring William Hill; a move which they believe will result in “substantial revenue and cost synergies”.

While a formal approach has not yet been made to Hills, 888 and Rank have been given until 21st August by UK takeover regulations to propose specific terms of a deal.

As a result of the UK government’s requirement for all UK-facing online operators to hold UK Gambling Commission licenses and to pay 15% tax on all online revenue derived from UK punters, synergy-seeking operators began rushing to the merger altar. Operators with a UK retail presence also saw increased taxes on their shops’ profitable fixed-odds betting terminals, while EU markets hit online operators with new value added taxes.

According to sources with knowledge on the matter, William Hill might express interest in the three-way deal proposed, although 888 Holdings and The Rank Group said in their statement that an official bid might not be made at all, but if made, may not result in a completed deal.

The 888 and Rank consortium statement reads: “The consortium sees significant industrial logic in the combination, through consolidation of their complementary online and land-based operations, delivery of substantial revenue and cost synergies and from the anticipated benefits of economies of scale, which will accrue to all shareholders.

“In relation to the proposed transaction, no decision has yet been taken as to whether 888 would be an offeror or offeree company in respect of certain of the steps that may be taken in order to implement the proposed transaction.”

888 Holdings will also be one of the many exhibitors showcasing at Malta’s biggest upcoming gaming event of the year, SiGMA16. If you would like to come and experience this iGaming summit in November, click here to register.

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