COULD WILL HILL CALL IT A DAY IN AUSTRALIA?
Finance newspaper speculates on possible buyers.
The Australian Financial Review published an interesting speculative article Wednesday suggesting that the Australian gambling market may no longer be attractive to William Hill Australia due to a more restrictive regulatory environment and heavy competition.
The article considered likely suitors should the betting giant decide to ‘pack up its bat and ball and head home.'
The AFR does make the point that thus far there is no sign of an intention to leave, and that William Hill has reiterated its commitment to the Australian market and may even be on the lookout for more acquisitions.
"The UK betting giant must have dusted the best part of half a billion dollars on these shores, with the dual acquisitions of corporate bookmakers Sportingbet and Tom Waterhouse in 2012 and 2013," the AFR comments, adding:
"Three years later, its Australian business is going backwards on a number of important measures including net revenue and operating profit, and it finds itself in a highly competitive foreign market where gambling seems to be subject to more regulatory scrutiny than ever."
UK-owned Ladbrokes could also be a target following the departure of its respected CEO Dean Shannon recently, the AFR suggests.
The piece goes on to identify likely suitors in the event of a Will Hill retreat as Crownbet, managed by Matthew Tripp and Sportsbet, managed by Cormac Barry and owned by the Irish Paddy Power group.
William Hill's 190,000-strong player base represents a tempting acquisition target, the article speculates.
Tabcorp and Tatts have been the subject of merger rumours this year and may be preoccupied with that project.