It appears that Playtech plc and William Hill plc have reached agreement on what the latter is prepared to stump up to achieve full ownership of the duo’s often fractious joint online gambling venture, William Hill Online.
According to a report in The Times, the sides reached agreement on a consideration of GBP 425 million late Thursday, although neither party has so far officially confirmed the deal.
It’s a solid return on investment for Playtech, which held 29 percent of the highly successful WHO. The deal represents ten times the underlying earnings of the enterprise, and Playtech stands to make a substantial profit on the GBP 150 million it invested in the venture four years ago.
By reaching agreement at this option to buy-out point, William Hill could well have saved itself a possibly much greater bill by the time the next option to buy point – in 2015 – is reached, given the continued success of the business.
The agreement follows a protracted evaluation process carried out by an independent third party as a balance between the numbers adduced by the individual partners
The Times reports that Playtech will disperse much of its profit to shareholders in relinquishing its interest in WHO, including majority shareholder and Israeli businessman, Teddy Sagi.
Will Hill will be laying out significant financial resources on the deal in addition to the GBP492.5 million it has agreed in partnership with GVC to pay for online gambling powerhouse Sportingbet plc . The Times notes that 86 percent of the Sportingbet purchase price will be for Will Hill’s account.
It is likely that CEO Ralph Topping will ask shareholders for authority to put together a GBP 380 million share issue to finance the debt.
Official confirmation on the WHO buy-out should be imminent, bearing in mind that Will Hill is due to post its FY numbers later today (Friday).