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Ladbrokes parents go from prey to hunter in the casino merger boom

(Bloomberg) – Entain Plc, the owner of Ladbrokes betting shops, is considering making an offer on some of William Hill’s assets just months after a $ 11 billion unsolicited bid was rejected by MGM Resorts International. Andersen, who acquired the company in January, plans to investigate William Hill Plc’s assets for sale by Caesars Entertainment Inc. outside the US, including well-known UK real estate. “We’re looking at everything, so we are certainly also looking into whether this could be an interesting opportunity,” she said in a recent interview. A deal would cause massive consolidation in UK betting shops, in which Entain already has a 40% stake. Bloomberg reported last year that the company was also interested in buying William Hill’s non-U.S. Assets under a previous CEO. The global online gaming market is expected to grow in double digits to as much as 158 billion US dollars annually through 2028. This has sparked a global race of casino operators, sports team owners, media companies, and private equity firms looking to build a strong position in the fast-growing business. In January, UK bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral’s parent company declined MGM’s offer for being too low and named Nygaard-Andersen, an existing board member, as CEO. “I don’t know if you should say exciting, but it was a busy Christmas and part of January,” said Nygaard-Andersen, 52. In April, Entain took control of Enlabs AB, a Swedish online betting company with a large presence in the Baltic States. According to Bloomberg data, the total volume of completed or pending casino deals has increased 33% this year to $ 22 billion. Notable transactions include the merger between Bally’s Corp. and Gamesys Group Plc as well as the acquisition of the Venetian by Apollo Global Management Inc. in Las Vegas. Nygaard-Andersen, whose most recent experience includes running esports teams and tournaments, sees a convergence between online betting and other forms of digital entertainment such as video games. She talks about how games like Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s Grand Theft Auto could potentially add a real casino or increase the chances of wagering on Fortnite tournaments. But that’s still down the street. Currently, Nygaard-Andersen and her Deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer Rob Wood are reviewing deals around the world. April Deal William Hill agreed in April to be acquired by Las Vegas-based Caesars, its sports betting partner, for $ 4 billion in the US Caesars has announced that it will sell its assets outside the US within 12 months to remove debt of $ 2 billion. These companies accounted for more than 80% of William Hill’s sales last year, according to a public filing. The auction is expected to start in about two weeks, and Caesars’ preferred approach is to sell all of the assets together, said a person familiar with the matter. Chad Beynon, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, estimates it is worth about $ 2.5 billion. One hurdle for Entain could be regulatory, said Nygaard-Andersen. Working with William Hill would give the company a large share of the UK market. Caesars did not respond to a request for comment. Apollo, who lost to Caesars in the takeover of William Hill, is also interested in bidding on the non-bidders. US assets and possibly the leading candidate, according to those familiar with the matter. Apollo is also bidding against Entain for the Tabcorp assets. Apollo declined to comment. Other private equity firms may be interested, including CVC Capital Partners, who declined to comment. Blackstone Group Inc. considered doing so, but decided against pursuing the property, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking. Similar strategy Flutter Entertainment Plc, owner of Paddy Power betting shops in Ireland and the FanDuel brand in the US, outlined a similar position “I don’t think we would acquire a very large number of stores, but we are always interested in our presence in retail, “said Peter Jackson, chief executive officer. “If there were customer databases or other things that we could acquire in European markets, we would look at that.” Another potential candidate for William Hill’s deals is Fred Done, the owner of Betfred, a competing bookmaker who owned approximately 6% of the shares in William Hill prior to the Caesars deal. A representative said he was still considering his position. Nygaard-Andersen, the first woman to run a UK-listed betting company, was unaffected by competition or the challenges of a William Hill deal. And the company still has its online betting company in the US with MGM. The two companies have invested roughly $ 500 million in a company that could now be worth more than $ 10 billion. “We have a variety of options,” said Nygaard-Andersen. “So let’s see.” You can find more stories like this on Sign up now to stay up to date with the most trusted business news source. © 2021 Bloomberg LP