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£700m Playtech offer for 888 reportedly declined in July

According to a Sunday Times report, it was revealed that Playtech attempted to acquire William Hill owner 888 Holdings in July. The indicative approach to acquire the company was priced at 156p per share for a total bid of £700m ($886.8m). 

It was reported that 888 declined Playtech’s offer.  

William Hill was acquired by 888 back in July 2022, less than a year after 888 reported its stock price all-time high. Despite the acquisition of William Hill, though, 888 has seen a decline in revenues, with Q3 2023 showing a 10% revenue fall from the same time last year. 

Moreover, despite bringing in a new CEO in July following the departure of Itai Pazner in January, and after anti-money laundering failings in the Middle East.

The details of the offer to acquire 888 were revealed as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) regarding bribery allegations of a Turkish operation owned by Entain, at the time named GVC. The DPA will further impact 888 due to the involvement of former GVC Chief Executive Kenny Alexander,Table games who is now a notable 888 shareholder. 

Since declining the offer 888 shares have dropped, putting pressure on 888 board chair Lord Mendelsohn. 888 was also in early-stage discussions of a merger with DraftKings. However, this acquisition was also declined.  

Despite the financial declines being faced by 888, it is not to say that Playtech would have provided a perfect solution to revitalise the company. The company has faced declines in recent years and has itself failed in previous acquisitions, such as its attempted acquisition by Aristocrat last year. 

The merger was reported at a cost of £2.1bn in October 2021, where Aristocrat would purchase the company for £6.80 per share. However, the acquisition was declined when only 56% of Playtech shareholders backed the merger, with the merger needing a backing of 75% to be followed through. 

Whether 888 has made the correct decision in also rejecting Playtech has yet to be seen.


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