William Hill and Amaya end merger talks

By Tom Lewis
William Hill and Amaya have put an end to talks over a potential £4.5bn merger.

The pair announced a possible “merger of equals” earlier this month, but William Hill has confirmed these discussions have ended following consultation with its major shareholders.

Releasing an update on the discussions, William Hill stated: “After canvassing views from a number of William Hill’s major shareholders, the board has decided that it will not pursue discussions with Amaya.”

Divyesh Gadhia, Chairman of Amaya, said: “Together with our financial advisors, we evaluated a wide range of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value and have concluded that remaining an independent company is in the best interest of Amaya's shareholders at this time.”

The potential merger took significant criticism last week from Parvus Asset Management, William Hill’s largest shareholder.

The firm’s co-founders, Mads Eg Gensmann and Edoardo Mercadante, wrote in an open letter that the merger had “limited strategic logic and would destroy shareholder value”.

A point of contention highlighted by Gensmann and Mercadante was their assessment that i-poker is a “mature, if not structurally declining revenue stream”, which they saw as a major issue given Amaya’s ownership of PokerStars.

Amaya’s VP of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser, in “response to inaccuracies regarding our business”, said: “Amaya believes online poker remains very attractive for its business as we maintain significant competitive advantage through the network effect of approximately 2.4m quarterly active unique players on our platform (as of 30 September 2016).

“It is simply not true to say that poker is a mature or declining market based upon certain public data which under-reports the size and growth of the poker market.”

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