Caesars secures High Court approval for William Hill acquisition

The High Court of Justice in England and Wales has approved Caesars Entertainment’s acquisition of British retail and online bookmaker William Hill.

Following the ruling by the High Court, the transaction will be completed as of 22 April, ending three weeks of uncertainty surrounding the deal.

First agreed in September 2020, Caesars offered a purchasing price of $2.9 billion for the FTSE 250 betting operator, planning on integrating its US-based business and technology.

The offer represented £2.72 per share, outbidding rival Apollo, and was recommended by the board of William Hill to the company’s shareholders.

Following the agreement of the transaction, Caesars initiated the process of acquiring legal approval in the US, requiring state by state approval from the relevant regulatory authorities.

It was later confirmed in early March the firm announced that it would delist from the London Stock Exchange on 1 April and end all FTSE share transactions by 6 April. 

William Hill’s board then announced that a document fully detailing the takeover timetable and any regulatory developments would be published for investors.

However, two key stakeholders in the company – WM Asset Management and HBK Capital Management – objected to the finalised agreement, stating that they had not been given adequate notice by the William Hill board.

Additionally, HBK objected to Caesars’ ability to restrict counterbidders under the terms of a joint venture signed between William Hill and Eldorado Resorts in 2019. Eldorado Resorts would later acquire and rebrand as Caesars.

HBK’s legal challenge meant that the finalisation of the transaction was delayed by over three weeks, during which time hedge funds began to acquire shares in the British operator.

According to This is Money’s sources in the city, hedge funds Sand Grove, TIG and Melart purchased shares at £2.75, more than Caesars initial offer.

Lauding 2020 as a ‘year like no other’ in its last financial report, William Hill provided a breakdown of its group-wide costs, revealing £70 million in direct costs attached to Caesar’s takeover offer.

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