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William Hill rejects £3.6bn bid by Rank and 888

By Ravender Sembhy

William Hill has rejected a takeover offer from Rank Group and 888, saying that the duo's proposal for a £3.6bn three-way merger "substantially undervalues" the high street bookmaker.

Responding to a formal takeover approach from the casino giant and online operator, William Hill said it does not believe a tie-up would enhance its "strategic positioning or deliver superior value for shareholders" compared with its own strategy.

The firm said: "Having reviewed the proposal with its financial advisers, Citi and Barclays, the board of William Hill has unanimously rejected the proposal as it substantially undervalues William Hill."

The offer, amounting to 364p per share, also involved saddling the newly formed company with £2.2b of debt.

Gareth Davis, chairman of William Hill, said: "This conditional proposal substantially undervalues William Hill, is highly opportunistic and does not reflect the inherent value of the business.

"It is a very complex three-way combination at a low premium, involving substantial risk for William Hill shareholders."

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