Published On: Sun, Jul 24th, 2016

888 mulls $2.6 billion merger with UK’s Rank



Israeli online gambling company 888 Holding plc and Rank Group have formed a consortium to bid for ailing bookmaker William Hill, FT reports. “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, ” a joint statement between Rank and 888 said on Sunday.

“Accordingly, there can be no certainty that any transaction will ultimately take place, nor as to the terms on which any such transaction might be constituted, ” the companies added and mantioned  that no formal approach had yet been made to William Hill’s board.

888 Holdings one of Britain’s biggest online gambling groups, offering sports betting as well online bingo and casino games. The company controlled by brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked (approximately fifty percent) of the parent-company through family trusts. Another pair of brothers, Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, (control approximately eleven percent) through a family trust. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

“The Times” today reported that 888, traded at a value of $1 billion, and the UK Rank group, one of the veterans in the non-online gambling market traded at a value of $1.2 billion. The merger would create a company with a value of £2 billion ($2.6 billion). Rank is Britain’s biggest operator of casinos under the Grosvenor brand and bingo halls under the Mecca brand.

Last year, William Hill was rejected in a £700 million takeover approach for 888, after Avi Shaked, held out for a higher offer. Last week the William Hill CEO was fired, and the company lost 21 percent of its value since the beginning of the year, while 888 has gone up 25 percent.

According to the regulatory process, Rank and 888 have until 21 August to launch a formal bid for William Hill.

Meanwhile, the gaming industry is to digest two other mergers of GVC and Paddy: Bwin.Party Power and Betfair have created a company worth £6 billion (£7.8 million), and Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are waiting for antitrust approval in the UK for a merger that will create a £2.3 billion company ($3 million).


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