Tipico Drops Out of Bidding for William Hill’s Non-US Assets

  • Tipico and parent company CVC Partners entered the bidding war in late July
  • William Hill’s non-US assets are expected to fetch at least £1.5bn
  • Apollo Global Management and 888 Holdings are still in the race
  • Caesars acquired William Hill in September 2020 for its US sports betting business
William Hill betting shop
German sports betting company Tipico has pulled out of the competition for William Hill’s non-US assets. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Former family members won’t be reunited

Only about five weeks after entering the ring in the competition for William Hill’s UK betting stores and European online operations, Tipico is out. Bloomberg reported over the weekend that CVC Partners, owner of the German sports betting company, withdrew its entry from the £1.5bn ($2.075bn) bidding war.

CVC and private equity fund Cinven bought William Hill back in 1999 for £825m ($1.14bn).

Had Tipico stayed in the hunt, it could have ended in a full circle-type story. CVC and private equity fund Cinven bought William Hill back in 1999 for £825m ($1.14bn). They took William Hill public three years later. The two companies eventually sold their interests in William Hill. CVC went on to buy Sky Betting & Gaming and Tipico.

Advent International also reportedly took its name out of the running for William Hill’s non-US assets recently, as did Ladbrokes and partypoker parent Entain.

Two remain

That leaves, according to industry insiders, just Apollo Global Management and 888 Holdings. Apollo tried to buy the entirety of William Hill last September, offering £2.9bn ($4.01bn). The company also came up short in its attempt to acquire Australian gambling giant Tabcorp, offering AU$4bn (US$2.97bn) this spring.

Tabcorp, despite heavy interest, eventually decided to spin off its lottery and keno businesses from its wagering and media units, listing both on the Australian Stock Exchange.

each has tried to acquire the other

888 also has a history with William Hill. Interestingly, each has tried to acquire the other. In 2015, William Hill offered to buy 888 for £750m ($1.04bn). 888 confirmed that William Hill had made an offer, but that is as far as it got.

Then, in 2016, 888 and Rank Group partnered to create BidCo. BidCo, in turn, made a £3.2bn ($4.4bn) pitch to William Hill. William Hill’s board of directors turned the offer down because of price and they didn’t believe a deal would “enhance William Hill’s strategic positioning or deliver superior value for shareholders compared against William Hill’s strategy.”

Year-long journey so far

This bidding war came about because Caesars Entertainment agreed to acquire William Hill in September 2020 for £2.9bn, the same price Apollo offered. The sale finally closed in April of this year after the companies received the necessary regulatory approvals.

Though William Hill is best known as a UK/European betting company, Caesars confirmed that it was interested only in its US-facing sports betting business. As such, it made its plans known to sell William Hill’s non-US assets.

In early August, Caesars completed the rebranding of the William Hill US sportsbooks to Caesars Sportsbook, complete with a national ad campaign featuring actor and comedian JB Smoove. The company’s newly-branded mobile sports betting app launched in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, with rollouts on the way in Arizona, Maryland, and Louisiana. The app is actually live in Arizona, but customers cannot actually place bets yet.

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