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Online gambling group 888 to buy William Hill’s non-U.S. business for $3 billion - Financial Markets Worldwide

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ReutersStock Markets53 minutes ago (Sep 09, 2021 03:40AM ET)

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) -888 will buy William Hill’s non-U.S. assets for 2.2 billion pounds ($3.03 billion) from U.S. casino group Caesars (NASDAQ:) in a deal that will give the online betting group access to 1,400 betting shops across Britain.

The purchase, 888’s largest since it listed in London in 2005, will also give the company access to William Hill’s 2 million active UK customers at a time when pandemic curbs have spurred record online gambling volumes.

Caesars bought William Hill for 2.9 billion pounds earlier this year as part of a wider consolidation in the gambling industry. U.S. gaming companies have been buying up London-listed groups to gain more expertise as the United States opens up to sports betting.

“We have found an owner for the William Hill business outside the U.S. which shares the same objectives, approaches and longer-term ambitions of that business,” Caesars CEO Tom Reeg said on Thursday.

888’s shares, which have gained nearly 40% so far this year, were down around 1% by 0719 GMT.

888, with a market value of 1.5 billion pounds, has obtained debt financing of about 2.1 billion pounds from J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:) and Mediobanca (MI:) to fund the deal, which is deemed as a reverse takeover as per UK’s listing rules.

The transaction includes 0.7 billion pounds relating to the assumption of existing William Hill bonds, 888 said.

888 said it would raise about 500 million pounds through a share sale, adding that it expects cost savings of at least 100 million pounds per year from the purchase.

The Times reported earlier this week that 888 had outbid Apollo for the William Hill assets. 888 said it has received unconditional support for the deal from its largest shareholder, the Dalia Shaked Trust. The trust holds roughly 23% of the company.

($1 = 0.7261 pounds)

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