MERGER RUMOURS ABOUND FOLLOWING FAILURE OF WILL HILL ACQUISITION ATTEMPT (Update)
CVC Capital Partners punted as next suitor for UK gambling group.
The failure of the GBP 3.4 billion 888-Rank acquisition bid for William Hill plc has triggered a wave of speculation in the UK media over the weekend, with analysts suggesting that the next suitor for the online and land gambling group could be private equity giant CVC Capital Partners.
Observers point out that CVC has a keen interest in the gambling sector, having recently snapped up a majority stakes in German sports betting company Tipico and Italian gaming and payments operator Sisal Group.
CVC has thus far declined to comment on the speculative reports, and some analysts have opined that there could be other potential buyers "running their numbers" and about to make offers as consolidation fever continues to grip the industry.
William Hills position as the biggest UK bookmaker is already under threat from the imminent GBP 2.3 billion Ladbrokes-Coral merger, and the 400 retail betting shops the conglomerate is required to shed before completing the merge could in large measure be bought up by the fast-growing Paddy Power-Betfair company, creating another credible contender for the UK betting crown.
Industry consolidation is being driven by increased costs of regulation and taxation, along with the fiercely competitive nature of the industry, which demands high marketing, manpower and technology investment if companies are to hold their own against rivals and continue to grow…especially in the online sector.