Gambling companies 888 Holdings and Rank Group have announced that they will no longer be pursuing a merger with William Hill.
Towards the end of July, the two companies confirmed plans for a £3billion+ merger with William Hill, which would have resulted in the creation of the UK’s largest operator and one of the world’s gambling powerhouses.
Over the past few weeks, 888 Holdings and Rank Group reached William Hill with two offers. Under the original bid, one of the leading bookmakers in the UK was valued at 339 pence per share. Following the rejection of the first offer, 888 and Rank sweetened their proposal by valuing their bigger rival at 352 pence per share. William Hill also rejected the second bid earlier this week, giving the reason that it has substantially undervalued the gambling operator.
Although there was strong belief that the two bidders would do their best to make their offer attractive enough for the bookmaker to accept, 888 Holdings and Rank Group eventually decided to walk away from the proposed merger.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the two companies said that they had failed to engage meaningfully with William Hill’s Board.
CEO of 888 Holdings Itai Frieberger pointed out that they were rather disappointed that their bigger rival didn’t share their vision of combining their businesses, as they could have created a gambling powerhouse that would have not only changed the UK gambling landscape, but also the global one.
Henry Birch, CEO of Rank Group, added that the deal would have delivered substantial value for all shareholders involved.
Despite the news that a consolidation will no longer be pursued, William Hill said in a statement that it will continue to focus on delivering value for shareholders by diversifying offering both digitally and internationally.
It is still not clear whether 888 and Rank would engage into a merger without William Hill, but as the acquisition of their bigger rival has been the main driving force of their consolidation efforts, the chances for such a move seem very small.
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