William Hill rejects Playtech claim on Sportingbet deal

LONDON Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:38am EST

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LONDON Dec 21 (Reuters) - British bookmaker William Hill has rejected a claim by joint venture partner Playtech that it should share in the benefits of a planned takeover of online gambling group Sportingbet.

The intervention by software group Playtech has complicated a deals seen as pivotal in the overseas expansion of William Hill, Britain's largest bookmaker.

William Hill is spending 454 million pounds ($738 million) to acquire Sportingbet's Australian operations and an option to buy its business in Spain.

Playtech, not part of the deal, said the businesses involved would have to be offered within six months to the William Hill Online joint venture in which it has a 29 percent stake.

William Hill has started moves to take full control of its venture with Playtech which itself said the Sportingbet deal should boost the value of its stake. Analysts had previously said the stake could be worth up to 400 million pounds.

A William Hill spokesman said: "Playtech have no rights to a business that is not part of William Hill Online and therefore this has absolutely no effect on any valuation".

Numis analyst Ivor Jones said in a note the dispute raised questions about the plan to buy out Playtech.

"It has become more likely that either William Hill does not go ahead with the acquisition in the first half of 2013 or that it does go ahead with the acquisition but the value-creation is less than expected."

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