888 operations expand further with William Hill acquisition

  • Updated
  • By Max Jenner
888 William Hill takeover
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Online gambling operator 888 will be seeking to expand its market share further following its acquisition of British sportsbook brand William Hill last week.

888 confirmed that it was in ‘advanced discussions’ with William Hill’s owner Caesars Entertainment last Tuesday after media reports had speculated that it had won out in the bid for a takeover, beating rivals Apollo Global Management and CVC Capital Partners.

Caesars had itself only acquired William Hill four months ago, announcing its intention to take over the company’s US-based operations and then sell the rest of the assets on.

888 chief executive Itai Pazner called the acquisition a ‘transformational and hugely exciting moment in 888’s history’, saying that the deal would ‘create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, exceptional brands, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth.’

William Hill international chief executive Ulrik Bengtsson expressed similar hopes for the deal, commenting that ‘The William Hill and 888 strategies are highly complementary with an absolute focus on the product and customer experience.

‘Scale is increasingly important in our sector and the combination of the businesses will provide a powerful alignment of brands and technology.’

As well as William Hill’s brands and technology, the deal gives 888 access to a workforce of over 10,000 employees. Since 888 currently operates exclusively online, the William Hill takeover will also bring it into the world of retail gambling for the first time, with all William Hill bookies now under its control.

Although this diversification of the brand’s offering will no doubt bring its benefits, analysts will probably be paying more attention to the deal’s effect on 888’s presence within the online gambling sector. In the months since its takeover by Caesars, William Hill had steadily increased its market share — something that 888 will be seeking to capitalise on.

888 obtained in excess of £2bn from creditors including JPMorgan in order to finalise the acquisition. Although completed in principle, the deal still needs to gain approval from several groups, including shareholders and the Financial Conduct Authority, before it can officially go through. If all conditions are satisfied, 888 hopes that the purchase will be completed during the first half of next year.