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William Hill rejects 'opportunistic' takeover offer from Rank Group and 888

Published 09/08/2016

William Hill's board is expected to meet to discuss the offer before a formal response is released to the stock market.
William Hill's board is expected to meet to discuss the offer before a formal response is released to the stock market.

William Hill has rejected a takeover offer from Rank Group and 888, saying that the duo's proposal for a £3.6 billion 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 £2.2 billion 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: execution risk, integration risk and risks of materially increased leverage. The group has a strong team to deliver against our strategy to grow our digital and international businesses so we strongly advise that shareholders take no action."

Last week William Hill said half-year profits were boosted by a strong Euro 2016, helping offset a dire Cheltenham Festival.

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