Weeks of verbal and financial speculation, which saw City of London hedge funds circling an inert William Hill, like hyenas at a fresh lion kill, have been quashed by confirmation that the iconic British betting firm’s US$2.9 billion (£2.07bn/€2.4bn) merger with Caesars Entertainment has finally been verified by the High Court.
Having vaulted the last legal hurdle in an epic takeover initiated by the U.S. gambling behemoth last September, William Hill will delist from the London Stock Exchange tomorrow (April 22) and all trading in its shares cease.
William Hill was supposed to delist from the London Stock Exchange on April 1. And the company’s board should have confirmed the marriage with Caesars weeks ago.
But two major William Hill investors, GWM Asset Management and HBK Capital Management objected to the terms of the pre-nuptial and tried to block the merger with legal action.
Rival private equity firms–among them Sand Grove, TIG and Melart—smelled the opportunity of making a quick financial killing and began purchasing shares in William Hill at a premium of £2.75 a share — three pence a share more than the £2.72 agreed with Caesars Entertainment.
City analysts predicted that the firm’s shares would soon surge to £4.90, even if the merger with Caesars hit the rocks.
Last year—despite the waves of debilitating Covid-19 lockdowns, which shuttered its many brick-and-mortar retail outlets—William Hill recorded net revenue of £1.3 billion (US$1.81bn/€2.4bn) because of its online expertise.
Overall revenue was down “only” 16 percent on 2019.
It’s this iGaming know-how that Caesars is now planning to fold into its own burgeoning online operations.
As for William Hill’s 2,300 UK High Street bookies, and more mundane verticals, they’re now for the butcher’s block and will be flogged to the highest bidders.
The ballad of William Hill, by all accounts, is done.