RANK AND 888 ABANDON WILLIAM HILL ACQUISITION BID
Companies drop initiative after second rejection by Will Hill board.
The chief executives of 888 Holdings and Rank plc issued a statement Thursday afternoon advising the market that they have abandoned their pursuit of a merger with William Hill plc and have withdrawn their offers.
The statement follows the rejection last weekend by the directors of William Hill of a second offer from the two companies of 394 pence per share respectively before taking into consideration the expected benefits of cost synergies, revenue synergies or the potential re-rating of the enlarged group.
The statement from 888 and Rank emphasises the claim that the merger would have created a transformational force in the global betting and gaming industry, and the UKs largest multi-channel gambling operator by revenue and profit, and was expected to have unlocked substantial cost and revenue synergies.
The statement notes that it has not been possible to meaningfully engage with the board of William Hill, and that 888 and Rank respect the William Hill boards position. As such, after careful consideration, each now confirms that they have withdrawn their interest and that they do not intend to make an offer for William Hill.
Itai Frieberger (888 CEO) said:
"We are disappointed that the board of William Hill did not share our vision of the combined businesses. We believe that there was compelling industrial logic for the combination of these highly complementary businesses, which in our view would have brought scale, diversification, and strong revenue and cost synergies, from which all shareholders would have benefitted."
Henry Birch (Rank CEO) added:
"We strongly believe that the transaction would have created significant value for all three sets of shareholders. We and 888 are grateful for the shareholder support we have received throughout this process"
Responding to the statement, William Hill chairman Gareth Davis, said:
"We note the Consortiums confirmation that it no longer intends to make an offer for William Hill. We will continue to focus our efforts on our strategy to deliver value for shareholders. The team has a clear plan to grow by diversifying digitally and internationally and four priorities to get us there. We have had a good start to the second half of the year and the Board now expects operating profit1 for 2016 to be at the top end of the previously guided GBP 260-280 million range."