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  • 888 hires new director of integration with William Hill acquisition scheduled to complete in Q1 2022
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888’s £2.2bn purchase of William Hill’s international business and UK retail network is scheduled to complete in Q1 2022 after it has received all mandatory pre-completion regulatory clearances.

Several boxes still need ticking, however, including the approval of 888 shareholders by ordinary resolution at a general meeting in early 2022.

Shareholders are expected to vote on a combined circular and prospectus for the acquisition, as well as a £500m capital raise to raise gross proceeds prior to the completion.

888 has also promoted SVP, head of B2C Guy Cohen to the position of SVP, director of integration as it hopes to ensure a frictionless combination of the two companies.

Completion is also conditional on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) approval of the re-admission of 888 shares on the London Stock Exchange, as well as the completion of a re-organisation of the wider William Hill group after its US business was sold to Caesars Entertainment.

888 CEO Itai Pazner said: “This transaction will create one of the world’s leading online betting and gaming groups with superior scale, leading technology, increased diversification, and a platform for strong growth, supported by a portfolio of iconic brands.

“The appointment of Guy Cohen to the critical role of SVP, director of integration also strengthens our leadership and commitment to this important process, as we look to leverage the significant expertise and talent from both businesses to benefit the combined group.

“I’m delighted that we have now checked off a number of important milestones towards completion of the acquisition.

“Given the strong progress we have made, we now expect the transaction to complete in the first quarter of 2022 and are excited about the opportunities ahead of us as we combine two powerful and complementary businesses,” he added.

Once the acquisition completes, the new-look 888 will become the third-largest gambling operator in the UK after Flutter Entertainment and Entain.

888, which has been public since 2005, reported a 7% year-on-year rise in Q3 2021 revenue to $229.9m, falling to a 3% increase on a constant currency basis.

888 shares are trading at 316p per share on the London Stock Exchange at the time of writing.

Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones believes the shares are materially undervalued due to the overhanging share equity issue and has reiterated a Buy recommendation on top of a 750p target price.

“The enlarged 888 would match leading competitors in product and platform investment and benefit from stronger market shares in key markets,” said Jones.

“In addition, 888 should have the resources to invest aggressively behind its US SI [Sports Illustrated] Sportsbook brand, with a real prospect of achieving relevance.

“Within six months, 888 management should be able to articulate this investment case and to set out a strategic roadmap in detail for investors,” he added.

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