Rank-888 enters crucial week in pursuit of William Hill takeover

Gareth Davis – William Hill

Rank Group and 888 Holdings pursuit of William Hill is expected to heat up this week, as consortium stakeholders are expected to make a fresh bid to seduce William Hill governance into opening negotiations.

This weekend, UK business news sources have reported that Rank and 888 governances have been reviewing the 364p per share offer (value circa £3.2-3.3 billion), which was rejected by the William Hill board on the basis of undervaluing the firm’s assets.

Under the UK Takeover code, Rank and 888 governances have been issued a 21 August deadline in which to make or amend its formal offer. The William Hill board could further move to extend the deadline.

Key to starting any negotiations will be winning over William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis, the former CEO of Imperial Tobacco dismissed Rank/888’s initial offer stating to The Daily Telegraph that “shareholders should flog me if I had discussions with [Rank and 888] on the basis of this offer”.

Last week Rank/888 governances outlined their plans for creating a three-way FTSE-100 enterprise, which would aim to become the UK’s ‘largest multi-channel gambling operator’.

Dealing with mass changes to the UK gambling sector, which has seen multiple £ billion M&A activity amongst its participants, Rank/888 governances have held forth that they view ‘significant industrial logic in the combination’ in a three-way tie-up.

In order to consider taking forward any bid to its investors, Gareth Davis stated that a revised offer should have a ‘bigger premium and bigger pay-off’ for William Hill, the biggest party in the planned enterprise.

Industry commentators have speculated the options of Rank/888 governances, who may choose to entice William Hill Shareholders by boosting the deals ‘cash element’ or increasing William Hill’s stake within the business.

In its latest H1 presentation, William Hill governance paid little attention to the Rank/888 proposal, stating that the company had the internal capabilities to turnaround its 2016 struggles.


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