William Hill gets court approval for $4 bln takeover by Caesars

By , and
3 minute read

Signs are seen outside a branch of bookmaker William Hill in central London, Britain October 21, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Court approved scheme likely to be effective Thursday
  • WMH shareholder HBK had sought clarity on Caesars JV
  • Trans-Atlantic gambling takeover deals on the rise

April 20 (Reuters) - Bookmaker William Hill moved closer to being taken over by Caesars Entertainment on Tuesday, saying it had gained approval in a British court for the 2.9 billion pound ($4 billion) deal, which was opposed by minority shareholder HBK.

William Hill (WMH.L) shares fell more than 2% to 271.9 pence at 1208 GMT after the bookmaker said in a statement that the so-called scheme of arrangement for the deal was likely to become effective on Thursday after it was permitted by the court.

This approval followed a hearing last month, William Hill, which operates around 1,400 betting shops in Britain, added.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

HBK had opposed the scheme of arrangement for the deal, which was agreed in September with Las Vegas-based casino operator Caesars (CZR.O), saying the terms of an existing joint venture between the two firms were not adequately disclosed.

It argued that shareholders had voted on the scheme without the information they needed to judge the merits of the takeover.

William Hill had rejected HBK's allegation, saying it was confident that the document gave all the necessary information.

"The hope was that if the courts sided with these hedge funds, Caesars may be forced to improve its offers," Third Bridge analyst Harry Barnick said.

Private equity group Apollo (APO.N) had also approached William Hill about a takeover, but later backed out. Caesars had threatened to terminate its joint venture if the deal failed, making it unlikely that any other bidders would emerge.

American gambling firms have been tapping into the expertise of British rivals in recent months as sports betting has taken off in the United States during the coronavirus crisis.

Last month, Gamesys (GYS.L) agreed to a possible takeover by Bally's Corp (BALY.N) in a deal valued at 2.02 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.7293 pounds)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.