Wil­liam Hill in £241m swoop for Swedish on­line bet­ting firm.

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS - Ros Snow­don CITY EDITOR @RosSnow­donYPN

Book­maker Wil­liam Hill is to pay £241m for Swe­den-based on­line bet­ting firm Mr Green & Co.

Wil­liam Hill, which em­ploys 1,300 peo­ple in Leeds, said Mr Green op­er­ates in 13 mar­kets un­der brands in­clud­ing Red­bet and holds gam­bling li­cences in Den­mark, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the UK and Ire­land.

Wil­liam Hill will of­fer £5.90 in cash per share for the Stock­holm-listed com­pany, a 48.5 per cent premium on its clos­ing price on Oc­to­ber 30.

The firm said the com­bi­na­tion of Wil­liam Hill and Mr Green will cre­ate a “strongly po­si­tioned com­bined busi­ness” with a panEuro­pean foot­print in on­line bet­ting and gam­ing mar­kets along­side op­er­a­tions in the UK and the US.

Wil­liam Hill said the takeover of Mr Green will in­crease its share of rev­enue and prof­its from on­line as well as from out­side the UK, and re­duce ex­po­sure to the UK market.

Wil­liam Hill‘s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Philip Bowcock, said: “This pro­posed ac­qui­si­tion ac­cel­er­ates the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of Wil­liam Hill – im­me­di­ately mak­ing us a more dig­i­tal and more in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

“Mr Green will pro­vide Wil­liam Hill with an in­ter­na­tional

hub in Malta, with market en­try ex­per­tise and strong growth mo­men­tum in a num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries.

“Wil­liam Hill will move from a sin­gle brand to a suite of brands that can max­imise growth op­por­tu­ni­ties mov­ing for­ward in new and ex­ist­ing mar­kets.”

It marks the lat­est ex­pan­sion for the Bri­tish firm, af­ter it re­cently agreed a tie-up with US casino gi­ant El­do­rado in a bold move to tap into the re­cently lib­er­alised Amer­i­can market.

Bri­tish gam­bling groups have been in­creas­ingly turn­ing to over­seas ex­pan­sion as a way to off­set the re­cent blow from a UK Gov­ern­ment crack­down on fixed-odds bet­ting ter­mi­nals.

Lad­brokes owner GVC re­cently an­nounced a sim­i­lar joint ven­ture with Las Ve­gas-based casino group MGM.

An­a­lyst Greg John­son at Shore Cap­i­tal said: “Ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg, Mr Green is fore­cast to gen­er­ate rev­enue, EBITDA and EBIT in the year to De­cem­ber 2018 of £145m, £21m and £11m re­spec­tively build­ing to £172m, £26m and £15m in 2019.

“The trans­ac­tion rep­re­sents an EBITDA mul­ti­ple of un­der 10 times, which is likely to be sharply lower in­clud­ing syn­er­gies, which we es­ti­mate at around £5m. The deal is to be fi­nanced out of ex­ist­ing re­sources and would ex­pected to be mod­estly earn­ings ac­cre­tive of around 1p per share – off­set­ting the re­cently an­nounced duty rise in the UK.

“The trans­ac­tion sup­ports the group’s strat­egy to digi­tise and in­ter­na­tion­alise, i.e. re­duce its risk ex­po­sure to the UK, bring­ing both scale and a faster earn­ings growth pro­file, al­though we need to un­der­stand the added risk pro­file.”

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