On December 3, 2023, it was reported that 888 Holdings Plc, the owner of William Hill, turned down a takeover offer of nearly $890 million from Playtech in July of that year. According to The Sunday Times, sources revealed that discussions took place between 888 and Playtech, with the potential for Playtech to combine the target with its Italian betting unit, Snai, and then spin off its business-to-business unit.
This news follows reports that DraftKings had engaged in takeover talks with 888 during the summer months. However, DraftKings ultimately abandoned negotiations shortly after FS Gaming Investments, an investment group led by former GVC CEO Kenny Alexander, revealed it had acquired a 6.57% stake in 888. This move raised regulatory concerns, leading the Great Britain Gaming Commission to review William Hill’s license due to the questionable divestment of a Turkish business under Alexander’s leadership at GVC.
It was noted that Playtech’s offer valued 888 at $889.65 million, leading some to speculate that 888 may have been wise to accept the offer, given that the company’s market capitalization has since declined by $381.28 million. This decline came after 888 paid $765 million to Caesars Entertainment in 2022 for the international operations of William Hill.
888 and Playtech have a preexisting partnership, with Playtech running internet casino games on 888’s platform. The two parties expanded their arrangement into the growing US iGaming market in the previous year.
Despite being a subject of takeover speculation, 888 appears intent on trying to survive on its own, at least for the time being. The company ended 2022 with a high debt-to-capital ratio and $3.55 billion in outstanding liabilities. However, it does not have to contend with any debt maturities until 2027, giving it some breathing room.
However, given 888’s low market capitalization and the strong brand recognition of William Hill among European bettors, it is possible that other potential suitors may make takeover offers in the future.