Global Gambling Powerhouse…Amaya & William Hill enter ‘all-stock’ merger talks


The governances of William Hill Plc and Amaya Inc have confirmed that they have entered talks discussing a potential ‘all-stock merger of equals’, with a view of creating a global gambling powerhouse.

Reacting to press speculation on late Friday, the governances of FTSE-listed William Hill and Toronto TSX-listed Amaya disclosed that initial merger talks had begun.

Amaya the operating company of global leading online poker operator PokerStars, has been reviewing its strategic options since March’s proposed management takeover bid by former CEO David Baazov.

Further to William Hill’s interest in merging with Amaya, Reuters Business reports that FTSE-listed GVC Holdings and private equity firms are eyeing potential bids for Amaya assets.

Both William Hill and Amaya have suffered turbulent 2016s. Burdened by higher taxes, operating expenses and a decline in its digital division William Hill has declared two full-year profit warnings in 2016.

In July, William Hill governance announced that CEO James Henderson had left the company, with UK business sources stating its investors’ were concerned regarding the company’s failed digital strategy.

Subsequently, Amaya has also suffered from its own leadership conflict with its former CEO David Baazov being charged with multiple cases of insider trading by the Quebec Securities Regulatory Authority (AMF) this March.

At present Baazov’s $2.8 billion management takeover bid has been halted, with the insider trading allegations being brought to court. This August Amaya confirmed that Baazov had formerly resigned as CEO, with Rafi Ashkenazi taking over leadership of the firm.

Since March of this year, Amaya governance has put in place a special committee advised by Barclays Capital on the firm’s strategic options with regards to a potential sale or merger.

Updating the market, Amaya informed that the special committee “has not made a determination as to whether a transaction of any kind is in the best interests of the company at this time and will continue its review of alternatives,”.

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