888 Holdings, Rank Group Talk Merger, Eye William Hill Pickup

International gaming giants 888 Holdings and Rank Group have confirmed talks of a possible merger with a possible jointly-purchased giant in their sites: the suddenly foundering UK market leader William Hill.

Spokesmen for 888 and Rank issued a brief statement confirming the ongoing discussions. The announcement, made earlier today, was distributed by e-mail to select UK financial-news outlets.

According to the joint confirmation, “The consortium [referring to the combination of 888 and Rank] 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.”

William Hill PokerThe possible offer for William Hill comes amid a tumultuous week or two for the venerable firm, following last week’s forced ouster of CEO James Henderson, following a lowered profit warning issued earlier this year and general market consensus that William Hill has lagged well behind its primary competitors in securing its online future.

William Hill is expected to issue a statement on Monday downplaying the potential acquisition, which could be described, if executed, as a hostile takeover attempt.  It’s an interesting twist on previous deal talks between William Hill and 888 back in 2014 and early 2015, in which it was William Hill considering buying 888 in a deal worth an estimated £720 million.

That deal fell apart, and a reprieved 888 subsequently failed in a heated bidding battle to acquire beleaguered rival bwin.party, which went instead to GVC Holdings.  Nonetheless, in the two years since, which roughly equals the timeframe of Henderson’s stint as CEO at Hills, that company has foundered, dropping more than 30% of its share value.

888, meanwhile, has surged by roughly the same percentage, while Rank Group, with a well-known presence in both the land-based and online UK markets, including owning numerous Grosvenor casino properties, has been relatively stable.  Should Rank and 888 merge together to produce a larger firm, separate from the potential William Hill acquisition, the combined firm would have a market valuation of about £1.7 billion.  That’s still less than the £3 billion valuation figure at present for Hills, suggesting a leveraged offer is in the works, but William Hill’s weak numbers and well-established UK presence still leave the company as an inviting target.

UK financial-market regulations require that if a firm bid is made by the joint 888-Rank consortium, a formal, finalized bid must be made by August 21st.  More details on the potential takeover and its ripple effects upon the rapidly changing European gambling landscape are expected in the near future.


Leave a Comment



filter by

Dan Katz

29th February 2020 // Uncategorised

Is the Coronavirus a Threat to the 2020 WSOP?

This has been one hell of a week. The coronavirus (COVID-19) is picking up steam globally. World financial markets have...

Dan Katz

26th February 2020 // Uncategorised

Side Bets Available at PokerStars Poker Tables

Poker is gambling. We like to say that it is a game of skill – and it is – but it is also gambling. And that’s...

Dan Katz

17th February 2020 // News, Online Poker Action, Poker Tournaments

World Series of Poker Expands Online Bracelet Schedule to 14 Events

On Thursday, the World Series of Poker released the schedule for this summer’s online bracelet events, to be hosted...

Dan Katz

8th February 2020 // Gossip, News, Online Poker Action

Phil Galfond Down €750,000 to VeniVidi1993 in Galfond Challenge

Look, I don’t typically make a habit of feeling bad when people of means lose money, but oh man, I am starting to get...

Dan Katz

2nd February 2020 // News, Online Poker Action

PokerStars, partypoker Launching Dueling Bounty Tourney Series on Super Bowl Sunday

The year 2020 is already one-twelfth gone. It seems like just yesterday that Larry David was arguing that it was too...

Haley Hintze

31st January 2020 // Misc, News, Poker Tournaments

Coronavirus Outbreak Forces Postponement of Triton Jeju Series

The Triton Super High Roller Series scheduled for mid-Februry in Jeju, South Korea has become the first poker event...