Wednesday September 19,2012 : WILLIAM HILL, AND GVC COMMENT ON SPORTSBET ACQUISITION RUMOURS
Share price movement prompts announcement
William Hill plc and GVC plc have made an announcement confirming that they are in the preliminary stages of considering a possible joint offer for the major online gambling group Sportingbet plc.
Sportingbet has responded by issuing a statement noting that its Board has not received an approach yet, and accordingly no action should be taken by any shareholder.
The Will Hill-GVC announcement, which emphasises that it is not notice of a firm intention to make an offer, appears to be motivated by recent Sportingbet share price movements as rumours that a deal could be in prospect spread.
The announcement advises that William Hill and GVC have committed to work exclusively with each other, and that it is currently envisaged that any possible offer would be structured such that when completed William Hill would acquire the Australian and certain other locally licensed businesses of Sportingbet and GVC would acquire the remaining parts of the Sportingbet business.
"Any offer would be substantially in cash with an element of GVC paper," the announcement advises.
It goes on to note that William Hill intends that the entity initially acquiring the Australian and certain other locally licensed businesses of Sportingbet would be a subsidiary of William Hill and not William Hill Online – a joint venture between Playtech and William Hill.
GVC and William Hill reserve the right to amend the terms and structure of the possible offer in due course.
"The Boards of William Hill and GVC believe that by acting in combination they represent a highly credible possible offeror for the entire Sportingbet business, substantially in cash," the announcement observes.
"No formal approach has been made to the Board of Sportingbet and there can be no certainty that any offer will be forthcoming and nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made."
The announcement sets the regulatory clock ticking at the stock exchange; in accordance with Rule 2.6(a) of the Code, William Hill and GVC must, by not later than 5.00 p.m. on 16 October 2012, either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Sportingbet in accordance with Rule 2.7 of the Code, or announce that it does not intend to make an offer. This deadline will only be extended with the consent of the Stock Exchange Panel.