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DraftKings reportedly considered bid for 888 Holdings

Given their contrasting fortunes, was leaving the deal the right move?

888holdings bid
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During this summer, DraftKings engaged in preliminary discussions about a potential acquisition of 888 Holdings, the owner of William Hill and other European operators, according to the Financial Times.

These early-stage talks occurred in June and July and involved DraftKings CEO Jason Robins meeting with a group of 888 Holdings shareholders known as FS Gaming.

The discussions revolved around the possibility of an all-stock offer for 888 Holdings and advisers were present on both sides. Notably, FS Gaming included industry veterans like former GVC CEO Kenny Alexander.

888 Holdings has been seen as a takeover target by analysts due to its struggling share price, attributed to management challenges, compliance issues and a recent profit warning.

DraftKings, however, didn't make a direct approach to 888 Holdings. The talks coincided with 888's Chair, Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn, seeking a new chief executive.

Mendelsohn disclosed in mid-July that the UK gambling regulator had initiated a review of 888's licence over concerns related to a tax bribery probe from GVC's time, led by Alexander.

An acquisition would have valued 888 at a premium to its market capitalisation, which reached £550m ($676.9m) during the discussions.

A hurdle presented in the deal would have been 888 Holdings' £1.7bn debt resulting from the acquisition of William Hill's non-US business from Caesars Entertainment.

DraftKings' focus on 888 Holdings is part of a broader strategy to expand its presence and influence in the betting industry. In 2021, DraftKings made a £22bn bid for Entain, but it was later dropped.

DraftKings reported positive financial results for Q3 2023, with a 57% increase in revenue, driven by customer engagement, customer acquisition and expansion of its sportsbook product into new regions. Despite the increase in revenue, the company still reported a net loss. The company is planning further expansion into various US states and Canada in the coming year.


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