William Hill agrees Sportingbet takeover

William Hill has agreed a £454m deal to acquire Sportingbet’s prized Australian division and be granted a call option over its Spanish Miapuesta-branded business.

The acquisition forms part of a joint cash and paper offer for Sportingbet from William Hill and GVC Holdings which values each Sportingbet share at 56.1p and the group at around £485m, with GVC acquiring the remainder of the business operating in largely unregulated dot.com markets.

William Hill CEO Ralph Topping (pictured) said the deal highlighted its “commitment to grow further internationally into regulated, high growth markets such as Australia”, as well as to further diversify the business into online and multi-channel operations.

The UK bookmaking giant said in a statement that it believed the addition of Sportingbet’s Australian and Spanish businesses would increase its share of operating profits derived from online activities to more than 40%.

Sportingbet Australia currently offers online sports betting under its own brand and Centrebet – in-play, casino and poker are not currently allowed under the country’s Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 – and generated revenues of £87.4m and EBITDA of £34.8m in the last financial year to the end of July.

Hill’s said today that Australia was “one of the most attractive online locally licensed markets where at present it does not have a footprint”. The UK bookmaker, which doesn’t hold a licence down under, shut off its business from Australian customers last year to safeguard its application for a licence in Nevada, where regulators lack comfort with unregulated operations.

In Spain, Sportingbet’s Spanish-language Miapuesta brand is one of the three market leaders for online sports betting alongside bwin and bet365. However, CEO Andy McIver admitted at the company’s recent Q1s that it had lost market share after being forced by an injunction to close the Spanish website for two months ahead of the issue of its licence on 1 June.

William Hill said exercising its call option on the Sportingbet Spanish business, which also offers poker and casino table games, would enable it “to achieve critical mass in the market faster than it otherwise would have done.”

Article written by Stephen Carter

Casino Choice journalist

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