Buyers line up for William Hill non-US Assets

With the dust just settling on Caesars takeover of William Hill, phase two of the transaction is about to take place.

Phase two is the divestment by Caesars of all William Hill’s non-US assets. Caesars always said that they were only ever interested William Hill’s US assets. The the rest would be auctioned off a soon as possible and that process has already started, with interested parties now lining up.

Early reports suggest there is plenty of interest for these businesses. Why wouldn’t there be? A household name in the UK, William Hill was a thriving operation online and terrestrially in the UK long before setting foot in the US.

By most metrics (future potential aside), the UK/EU business is significantly larger than US operation. Numbers from the 2020 financial year show this clearly.

In terms of group net revenue revenue (total £1,324.3m) the split was as follows:

  • UK 64%
  • International 23%
  • US 13%

Of the groups 3.2+ million online customers:

  • 63% reside in the UK
  • 37% are outside the UK

They operate 1,414 licensed betting outlets on the UK High street, giving them a 21% share of this market, trailing only:

  • Entain (Ladbrokes, Coral etc) 43%
  • BetFred 23%

Then there are other online brands forming part of the group, like the thriving Mr Green.

And the bidders are…

A report in The Telegraph claims Caesars will be wanting in excess of $1.5 billion. Seems reasonable given that’s less than half of the £2.9 billion paid for the entire group. These numbers value the smaller US business higher. They must see plenty of growth potential there.

Parties entering the bidding process include a few familiar names.

Apollo Global Management, the US private equity firm that lost out to Caesars on the original purchase are having another bite at the cherry.

888 Holdings are keen. CEO Itai Pazner has been quoted as saying, “We have mentioned William Hill in the past, that could be something that we would be looking at. And I won’t change my comment on that.

So too are Kindred, owners of Unibet and 32 Red. They William Hill’s online business as a good fit with their own.

Betred owner Fred Done’s interest is motivated more by terrestrial that online ambitions. Taking control of William Hill’s 1,414 LBO’s would give him a 44% majority share of that market.

Whatever happens, it will be nice to see the William Hill online operation shaken up a bit.

William Hill live casino was once the envy of the industry. Biggest (and arguably best looking) private table area, best promotions, and an obvious strong desire to stay at the front of the pack. In the last few years they’ve dropped the ball a bit and fallen back into the pack.

A return to the glory days would be welcomed.

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