Canada’s Amaya Gaming and the UK’s William Hill are discussing one of the biggest mergers in online gaming history – a £4.6 billion ($5.7bn) deal that would bring companies with different strengths together.
According to The Telegraph, William Hill and PokerStars’ parent company quietly began their merger talks back in July. But whatever talks took place were quickly overshadowed by a failed takeover bid by the Rank Group (Grosvenor casinos) and 888 Holdings.
Both companies combined to offer £3.4 billion for William Hill, which the company said was “highly opportunistic.”
New William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock, who assumed this role in the summer, had his eye on Amaya the whole time.
The merger has yet to be completed, but it seems more of a possibility now. According to the Financial Times, it would be a reverse takeover, where William Hill, the smaller company, would assume control of Amaya.
Not everybody is convinced that the merger is a great idea. A senior executive at a competitor told the Financial Times, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Another industry insider said, “As a dish, it probably needs a lot of sauce to make it palatable for shareholders.”
Skeptics are quick to point to the struggles that William Hill and Amaya have dealt with over the last year, namely losing their CEOs, having their stock prices fall, and being subjected to takeover bids.
Nevertheless, it seems that Amaya and William Hill are serious about the merger, given that competitors like Betfair and Paddy Power merged in February, while Gala Coral and Ladbrokes are close to doing the same.
The deal makes sense on some levels, given that William Hill is a sports betting giant, while Amaya is a major player in the online gaming sector.
Amaya has had great success with PokerStars and its casino offerings, but they’re still struggling to draw sports bettors. William Hill, meanwhile, has the world’s biggest bookmaking operation, but they haven’t fared well against online competitors.
“The potential merger would be consistent with the strategic objectives of both William Hill and Amaya and would create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino,” read the companies’ joint statement.