Caesars Looks Set for William Hill Takeover as Apollo Formally Pulls Out of Race

  • Caesars Entertainment now has no other rivals in its pursuit to buy the sportsbook company
  • It threatened to terminate its exclusivity deal with the betting operator if it chose a rival bidder
  • Private equity firm Apollo still plans to pursue the non-US assets of William Hill
  • William Hill shareholders will next vote on the Caesars bid on November 19
man's index finger touches clear screen reading "takeover"
Caesars Entertainment looks set to take over William Hill after Apollo officially announced its withdrawal from the bidding race. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

An official withdrawal

Private equity company Apollo Global Management announced on Thursday that it is no longer looking to purchase British gambling operator William Hill. As a result, Caesars Entertainment has no other competition for its £2.9bn ($3.8bn) bid. The William Hill board already unconditionally and unanimously recommended this offer to shareholders. 

Caesars Entertainment has no other competition

Apollo’s chances looked to be over when Caesars threatened to terminate its exclusivity deal with William Hill if it accepted a bid from another party. The arrangement gives William Hill exclusive access to all Caesars properties.

The recent announcement prevents the equity firm from taking part in the bidding process for at least six months, as per the UK’s City Code on Takeover and Mergers. However, there are a few conditions that bypass the six-month rule.

Apollo can once again bid for the William Hill acquisition if Caesars withdraws its bid or the bid collapses, a third party communicates a firm intention to bid, or William Hill announces a “whitewash proposal” or reverse takeover. The final exception is if there is a material change in circumstances.

Eyeing up non-US assets

While Apollo is pulling out of the race to acquire the company as a whole, it still has plans to bid for William Hill’s non-US assets. With the takeover, Caesars will focus on US sports betting market growth while intending to sell William Hill’s other operations. Reuters sources say the plan could also see the casino giant hand over the sportsbook’s UK operations to Apollo.

William Hill owns about 1,400 retail sportsbooks in the UK, which some bidders have valued at about £1.5bn ($1.97bn). 888 Holdings and Betfred are among the potentially interested parties for the acquisition of the company’s European arm. Two rival private equity companies, CVC Capital Partners (former owner of Sky Betting & Gaming) and Apax Partners, are also reportedly considering bidding for the said assets. 

Progress of the merger

In September, the William Hill board accepted the bid from Caesars. However, a number of steps are necessary before the companies can go ahead with the deal.

shareholders will next vote on the proposal on November 19

William Hill shareholders will next vote on the proposal on November 19, while the relevant competition and regulatory authorities will also have to give their approval. The completion of the deal should hopefully take place during the second half of 2021. The sale of non-US assets will probably not be possible until the finalization of the takeover.

As part of the proposed merger, Caesars will be looking to expand its presence in the ever-growing US sports betting market. William Hill already has sportsbooks open at more than 160 locations across 14 US states.