Apollo Withdraws from William Hill Bidding Race, Confirms Interest in Bookmaker’s Non-US Business


Major US buyout fund Apollo Global Management on Thursday announced that it no longer intends to make a full takeover offer for William Hill, effectively putting an end to the bidding war for the legacy bookmaker.

Apollo’s announcement comes a few days after the private equity firm backed Czech private lottery operator SAZKA Group with a €500 million investment and tabled a C$3.3 billion offer for Canadian casino operator Great Canadian Gaming.

Apollo Injects €500 Million Into SAZKA, Buys Canadian Casino Giant

William Hill revealed in late September that it was approached by several parties that were interested in acquiring it. It quickly became known that Apollo and casino powerhouse Caesars Entertainment Inc. were among the suitors circling the British bookmaker.

Caesars eventually made a formal £2.9 billion offer, which William Hill accepted. The deal is subject to the gambling operator’s shareholders voting in favor and is expected to close in the second half of 2021. Caesars already owns 20% in William Hill’s US business.

The casino operator said that when the transaction closes, it would mainly focus on William Hill’s US operations and would likely sell the company’s UK and European businesses.

It emerged earlier this week that several private equity firms are doing the numbers on William Hill’s non-US operations and CVC Partners, Apax Partners, and Apollo were all named as potential buyers of those assets.

William Hill’s US arm runs physical sportsbooks at casino properties, including Caesars-owned ones, around the US, as well as digital wagering services. As for its non-US operations, these include retail betting shops around the UK and online gambling products in several European markets.

Apollo May Still Table an Offer for William Hill under Certain Circumstances

In a statement published Thursday, Apollo said that while it has decided not to make an offer for William Hill at this point, it may change its mind, should certain circumstances arise.

The private equity fund said that if Caesars withdraws its offer or the deal lapses, it would move to table an offer for William Hill. It would also approach the bookmaker if a third party announces a firm intention to make an offer for it.

In addition, if William Hill announces a “whitewash” proposal or a reverse takeover proposal, or if some material change of circumstances happens, the gambling operator could be approached by Apollo, as noted by the buyout giant in its Thursday statement.

Apollo also confirmed that it is interested in William Hill’s non-US business and its decision not to make a full takeover offer does not affect its intentions to potentially buy the bookmaker’s UK and international businesses.

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