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William Hill, Rank, 888 Merger Off?

It could have been a deal that would have created the largest gaming group in Britain, but now Rank Group and 888 have allegedly abandoned any hope of their £3billion takeover of William Hill. It was only recently reported of the alliance between Rank and 888 and their bid that was unanimously rejected by the William Hill board. William Hill have now rejected two offers from their rivals, they feel that Rank and 888 have seriously undervalued their business and did not expect a sweeter deal to be presented. The offer was viewed as complex within the William Hill hierarchy and relied too heavily on risk, debt and hope.

Rank and 888 claim they found it difficult to engage with William Hill and have now missed the deadline to improve their offer. Under legislation no more bids can be launched for six months, except in the circumstance that a rival bidder comes forward or Hill invites Rank and 888 back for a second bite of the apple.

With a mixture of online casino games and high street betting shops, the potential merger of William Hill, 888 and Rank would have created the largest multi-channel gambling company in Britain which would have, undoubtedly, been a powerful force within the industry.

It was understood that William Hill would be keen on the deal based purely on the fact that they have tried to buy both Rank and 888 in the past, however William Hill may have felt this deal didn’t benefit them as much as they’d have hoped and may be more open to a deal on their terms. Meanwhile, Betfair and Paddy Power merged earlier this year and the Ladbrokes Gala Coral deal is imminent, William Hill’s rejection of the deal leaves all them 888 and Rank in a state of limbo.

The former Cineworld chief financial officer, Philip Bowcock has been named the interim chief executive of William Hill and has been tasked with steadying the ship over the coming months following the resignation of James Henderson earlier in July. It is expected that one of Bowcock’s priorities will be to redraft the companies digital strategy.

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