Caesars Entertainment has announced that it expects to complete its proposed £2.9 billion acquisition of William Hill by April 1. Shareholders in William Hill have approved the deal, and it is now simply awaiting the necessary regulatory approvals, which should be obtained in the coming weeks.
William Hill sold a 20% stake of its US business to Eldorado Resorts in January 2019, plus 13.4 million shares in the overall company. In return, it received the exclusive rights to run sports betting operations at all 26 Eldorado casinos across the US. Eldorado then completed a $17.3 billion stock-and-cash takeover of Caesars Entertainment, and changed the name of the group to Caesars Entertainment.
William Hill and Caesars have therefore worked together for more than two years. Caesars is only interested in the US part of the business – which accounts for just a fraction of its current revenue – and it plans to sell the rest of the William Hill business after the takeover is completed. Betfred and 888 have been mentioned as potential buyers.
Ladbrokes owner Entain has secured all the necessary approvals to complete its proposed takeover of Baltics-facing operator Enlabs. It means that the takeover can take place if Enlabs shareholders give it the green light.
Entain’s initial offer was for SEK 40 per share, which valued the business at £250 million. Niklas Braathen, chairman of the Swedish-headquartered business, approved the deal, but US hedge fund Alta Fox – which controls around 10% of Enlabs – said it “materially undervalued the company”.
Alta Fox argued for a minimum of SEK 55 per share, and Entain eventually returned with an improved offer of SEK 53 per share. Shareholders have until March 18 to decide if they want to approve the deal.
Yet Entain, which also owns Coral and Bwin, said it “reserves the right to extend the acceptance period of the offer as well as to postpone the date of settlement” after gaining regulatory approval.
Betfred owner Fred Done has appointed Joanne Whittaker as the company’s new chief executive. Done, who has just celebrated his 78th birthday, will remain as chairman and promised staff he is “going absolutely nowhere”.
Whittaker was head of IT at Betfred before leaving to set up a childcare voucher business called Fideliti in 2005. Done invested in Fideliti, taking a 25% share of the business, which had turnover of more than £83 million and pre-tax profits of £1.7 million in the year to March 2019.
Whittaker has since set up two more businesses backed by Done – Angel Advance, which provides debt advice, and Workplace Finance, a loans provider.
Betfred has also tied up a deal with AI and game data specialist Future Anthem to give customers a more personalised experience. “We continue to invest in our core platforms and technologies in order to offer the best customer experience to our players,” said Betfred Digital managing director Rakesh Chablani. “Taking advantage of Future Anthem's existing technology, AI models and experienced staff, under the guidance and leadership of our strong in-house data team, enables us to satisfy more of our objectives in a shorter timeframe.”
Football Index Has Licence Suspended
Football Index has had its licence suspended and the company has plunged into administration. The self-styled “football stockmarket” had around 500,000 customers, whose account balances have been frozen. They could lose a total of £90 million that was sitting in their accounts, according to some reports.
The UK Gambling Commission said it had suspended the operating licence of Jersey-based parent company BetIndex Ltd following “an ongoing section 116 review” into the operator.
“We had concerns activities may have been carried out in purported reliance on the licence, but not in accordance with a condition of the licence, and that Football Index may not be suitable to carry on with licensed activities,” said the UK Gambling Commission in a statement. “We have made it clear to the operator that as the investigation progresses, we expect it to focus on treating consumers fairly and keeping them fully informed of any developments which impact them.”
One customer, who asked to remain anonymous told inews.co.uk: ““There’s this huge feeling of shame. People are grieving for something they’ve lost. This was the hobby that transcended all hobbies, people were talking about it all the time, it wasn’t just about the actual platform, it was the community and it changed the way you watched football.”