As was suspected when the news first broke of Caesars takeover, the suspected sale of William Hill’s UK assets is going ahead.
If you have no idea what i’m talking about, here’s a quick recap.
Caesars Entertainment made a successful bid for William Hill back in October, beating off stiff competition from Apollo Global Management (remember that name).
The £2.7 billion deal was completed last month, and Caesars are wasting no time in cutting away the fat in order to claw back some of the cash they have spent.
For UK high street punters this means their local William Hill betting shop is likely to remain open, albeit under new management.
What is Happening to William Hill?
Caesars now own the entire company and all of their subsidiaries. They bought the lot.
However, it was widely believed, and now has been confirmed, that the American casino giant were mainly interested in Hill’s sports betting expertise and their American business interests.
William Hill also had a partnership in the US with the company, operating sportsbooks out of their many casino venues amongst other locations, and were doing well, so their brand is popular in the US.
However, in the UK Hill’s had been struggling, hit by regulatory changes as well as the declining high street market.
Caesars can’t be bothered to deal with that, so they are going to offload the high street shops, plus the UK and Europe online side of the business to someone else.
But who will that be?
Apollo Global Back in the Auction Room
The business assets will be auctioned off soon, and their are two major contenders thought to be gearing up for the purchase.
The first is Apollo Global Management, the same company who tried to buy the whole business but lost out to Caesars. Yep, they’re back for the bones.
Apollo are an American private equity firm, and to give you some idea of their scale they also tried to buy ASDA last year. They are not specifically a gambling company, but they invest across credit, private equity, and real assets, so William Hill would fall into the latter category.
The other company thought to be in the running is a gambling industry big hitter, and while you might not recognise the name of the company that will be making the bid, you will recognise the betting brand they control. The first is Shaked Ventures, the second is 888.
A successful bid from 888 would see them enter the high street retail market for the first time, having operated solely online since their inception back in the late 90s. This would be an interesting move since more and more high street bookies have shut up shop and moved online over the last few decades.
The sale is expected to reach around £1.5 billion, so whoever ends up in the saddle at William Hill will have one almighty hole in their pocket.
Does William Hill Have a Future?
Given that two massive companies are willing to splurge £1.5 billion on their UK and European business assets I would say yes, most definitely.
Non-remote betting is still worth around £2.5 billion every year, and with 1400 high street shops about to open back up for business after the pandemic, a huge chunk of that will go to William Hill.
Their online business in the UK is doing well and will no doubt be a target for further development and growth, and their European assets hold untold potential.
It may be one of the oldest gambling companies in the UK (est 1934), but Hill’s has changed hands multiple times over the years, and I suspect this will just be one more notch on the bedpost.