Betfred Boss Set To Back Caesars’ William Hill Bid

November 17, 2020

- Grant Whittington

Big news recently revealed is that according to inside sources close to billionaire businessman and bookmaking kingpin Fred Done, the industry titan is about to announce his backing of the £2.9 billion acquisition of British bookmaker William Hill by Caesars Entertainment Inc.

The billionaire investor is the founder and owner of Betfred, and already owns a major stake in William Hill – not to mention even that he this past spring became the largest investor in the company following an ongoing building of his stake in the business over recent months.

A vote in support of the transaction from the titan investor is considered the strongest indication yet of the overall attitude of William Hill’s investors regarding the likelihood of a successful takeover by the U.S. casino giant.

The Significance Of Done’s Vote

Caesars’ board has in the meantime voiced its unanimous backing of the William Hill deal – which leaves the only remaining voting process on the casino giant’s side of the court to be the upcoming shareholder voting session scheduled for November 19.

The casino titan during the final days of September 2020 tabled a formal proposition and offer for the acquisition of William Hill – with the £2.9 billion offer being equal to an offering of 272p per share.

Fred Done’s own ownership stake in William Hill is estimated to be valued at around £170 million – which is of course in and of itself a clear indication regarding the general consensus pertaining to the issue of “value for money”.

Recent rumours regarding the possibility of Done himself being about to enter a rival bid in his personal capacity have since been snubbed by a spokesperson for the billionaire.

Caesars Now The Lone Runner

Following the recent exit from the bidding race by private equity firm Apollo Management International, the U.S. casino giant – already a 20% shareholder in William Hill – has emerged the only remaining major bidder with a formal offer currently on the table.

The casino titan’s offer remains subject to a majority vote in favour of the takeover by the British bookmaker’s shareholders. In addition to shareholder-approval, the bid will also have to certain regulatory processes and garner the necessary competition and legal approvals. In the event of a successful clearing of all remaining hurdles, Caesars Entertainment can expect a finalisation of the deal by around the second half of next year.

Recent U.K. Developments

William Hill is of course a true stalwart in the British bookmaking sector. The company currently owns a total of 1,400 U.K.-based retail betting shops – this after the bookmaker following last year’s crackdown by government on fixed-odds terminals and betting was forced to permanently shutter a large number of retail shops. As many as 700 shops were closed down as a direct result of heavy restrictions and limitations imposed by the U.K. Government.

The 700 shops permanently shuttered in 2019 would however not spell the end of the bookmaker’s FOB-troubles yet. William Hill in August this year announced that it would not be re-opening at least one hundred and nineteen more of its famed high-street betting shops – this resulting from a financial downturn caused in part by government legislation, and in part by the global health crisis.

U.K. Not A Factor For Caesars

Important to note within the context of the U.K. and Caesars Entertainment’s bid is that the casino giant has stated in no uncertain terms that it plans to offload the bookmaker’s non-US business assets and interests just as soon as the takeover deal has been completed.

Several other parties have in the meantime declared a strong interest in acquiring the bookmaker’s assets outside of the U.S. – including GVC Holdings, 888 Holdings, CVC Partners, and Apax Partners.

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