888 and Rank withdraw from William Hill pursuit

By Tom Lewis
888 Holdings and The Rank Group have announced that they do not intend to make a firm offer for William Hill, and are withdrawing their much publicised proposal for a three way merger.

Two non-binding proposals were submitted to the William Hill board, on 8 August and 14 August, both of which were rejected.

In a joint statement, 888 and Rank reiterated their belief in the value of the proposal, saying: “The proposed transaction would have created a transformational force in the global betting and gaming industry.”

The pair said that “it has not been possible to meaningfully engage with the board of William Hill” in outlining the reasons behind the withdrawal.

Itai Frieberger, 888 CEO, said: “We are disappointed that the board of William Hill did not share our vision of the combined businesses.

“We believe that there was compelling industrial logic for the combination of these highly complementary businesses, which in our view would have brought scale, diversification, and strong revenue and cost synergies, from which all shareholders would have benefitted.”

Rank CEO Henry Birch said: “We strongly believe that the transaction would have created significant value for all three sets of shareholders.

“We and 888 are grateful for the shareholder support we have received throughout this process.”

William Hill has released its own statement, acknowledging the position of 888 and Rank.

Gareth Davis, Chairman of William Hill, said: “We note the consortium’s confirmation that it no longer intends to make an offer for William Hill.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on our strategy to deliver value for shareholders.

“We have had a good start to the second half of the year and the board now expects operating profit for 2016 to be at the top end of the previously guided £260-280m range.”


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