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Apollo Global Withdraws Bid For William Hill

November 13, 2020

- Grant Whittington

U.S. equity and buyout investment fund Apollo Global Management Inc. has withdrawn from the bidding race for U.K. bookmaking giant William Hill – leaving Vegas gaming and entertainment giant Caesars Entertainment Inc. the only other contender for acquisition and ownership.

The fund’s announcement came only days after the financing giant tabled a CA$3.3 billion offer for Canada’s Great Canadian Gaming Corp. – an offer the Great North operator giant’s board of directors has in the meantime approved by means of a unanimous vote in support of the full-ownership takeover.

According to the provisions of the takeover of the Canadian operator, affiliate Apollo Fund will acquire all of the available shares at a rate of CA$39 per share. The operator runs a total of 25 gaming and hospitality venues and facilities across Canadian provinces Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

Aside from the Great Canadian Gaming acquisition, Apollo Global also recently invested €500 million in investment funding in Czech private Lottery supplier SAZKA Group. The backing funding is considered a major strengthening of SAZKA’s bid for the UK’s National Lottery pitted against long-time operator Camelot.

The Race So Far

William Hill in September this year announced having been approached by several interested buyers looking to acquire ownership of the British bookmaker. It soon after the late-September announcement became known that the two main contenders in the bidding race were Apollo Global and casino giant Caesars Entertainment Inc.

Caesars Entertainment Inc., already a 20% owner in the bookmaker’s U.S. business operations resulting from a joint venture between William Hill and Eldorado Resorts, tabled a formal £2.9 billion offer not too long after – an offer William Hill has since accepted.

Caesars To Focus On U.S.

Also significant in terms of future operations is Caesars Entertainment’s announcement that it will, upon the successful closing of the deal, most likely decide to offload William Hill’s U.K. and European business interests – retaining and focusing solely on the bookmaker’s U.S. operations and assets.

Potential buyers to have reportedly expressed in interest in acquiring William Hill’s U.K. and European operations include Apax Partners, CVC Partners, and also Apollo Global Management Inc.

Non-U.S. operations owned and managed by the British bookmaking giant include high-street retail betting shops as well as several online casino and sports betting platforms scattered across regulated Europe.

Apollo has in the meantime announced that its decision not to go ahead with the push for acquiring William Hill should not be understood to in any way affect its interest in acquiring the bookmaker’s U.K. and European businesses.

Apollo Not Out The Park

Also confirmed by Apollo in its recent statement is a keeping open of its options to acquire William Hill in the event of certain conditions and circumstances arising in future.

One such eventuality would be Caesars withdrawing its offer or the lapsing of the deal for whatever reason, said the investment giant on Thursday. In such an event, Apollo said it would table a new offer for the bookmaker – with the same applying in the event of a third major party joining the William Hill bidding race.

A third set of circumstances that would leave Apollo free to approach the bookmaker with a new offer would be in the event of any of the following: the emergence of a so-called “whitewash” proposal or reverse takeover proposal, or the emergence of any other material changes before the successful closing of the takeover deal by casino and entertainment giant Caesars Entertainment Inc.

The successful closing of the deal remains subject to votes in favour of the takeover by Caesars Entertainment’s shareholders. The voting and acquisition processes are expected to have been finalised by no later than the second half of 2021.

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