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A British court gave permission for the £ 2.9 billion takeover of William Hill by American casino giant Caesars Entertainment, Inc., despite several investors protesting the deal.
The British bookmaker said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had authorized the proposed acquisition and allowed it to close on Thursday 22 April. On this day, William Hill will suspend trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange.
Company Chairman Roger Devlin said on Tuesday:
The court has approved the scheme of the agreement, and the deal with Caesars will close on April 22. Throughout this process, we have said that this transaction provides shareholders with a cash price that justly balances the exciting opportunities and risks inherent in the business and its strategy.
The deal is expected to close at the end of March following a regular hearing. However, the final ruling was delayed by the intervention of five hedge funds and a sixth private investor, William Hill , who opposed Caesars' bid to buy the British bookmaker.
They sent several letters of protest to the William Hill board of directors, claiming:
The company did not disclose potentially significant information about its US sports betting partnership, which could have allowed more participants to post higher bids for the UK operator.
William Hill formed a sports betting joint venture with former Eldorado Resorts in 2018 shortly after the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports games. Eldorado and Caesars merged in the summer of 2020 and the expanded group inherited this earlier partnership.
Caesars unveiled its proposal last September, which William Hill quickly opted for over a competing proposal from the private equity group Apollo Global Management. Under the terms of the casino operator's application , it can exercise its right to terminate the joint venture if the British bookmaker decides to accept another takeover bid.
Specifically, Caesars said it could end its sports betting partnership with William Hill if the latter is bought by one of the limited buyers Caesars can identify. There have been speculations that the Supreme Court might reject the deal because of the unusually long time it took to reach a decision after the March hearing.
However, Judge Alastair Norris said:
The transaction documents provide sufficient information for William Hill's stakeholders to make an informed decision on the matter presented by the scheme.
Caesars announced plans to sell the bookmaker outside the United States following the completion of the deal. Several parties have shown interest in William Hill's operations in the UK and overseas, with Apollo being considered one of the leaders in the race.
Online gambling operator 888 has also previously said it may be interested, while Betfred is believed to be eyeing retail betting chain William Hill in the UK.
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