After opposition from shareholders, William Hill and Amaya call off merger talks
In a significant new development in the world of iGaming, William Hill and Amaya – two of the biggest players in the market – have ended their merger talks.
It was only last week that the two companies had publicly announced their intentions to join forces to constitute a £5.7 billion (€7 billion/€6.3 billion) entity.
However, with opposition from within their ranks to this deal, the two parties called off the talks.
The single largest shareholder Parvus Asset Management too voiced its concerns with regards to the potential merger.
“Trading has continued to be positive in the second half of the year with work focused on improving online performance across mobile gaming and key customer journeys,”the statement said.
“The board continues to expect operating profit for 2016 to be at the top end of the previously guided £260 million to £280 million range.”
Divyesh Gadhia, chairman of Amaya, said:
“Amaya is a strong and growing company with experienced management and a proven strategy to deliver profitable growth and shareholder value.
“Together with our financial advisors, we evaluated a wide range of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value and have concluded that remaining an independent company is in the best interest of Amaya's shareholders at this time.
“The board has full faith in Amaya's management to execute on its strategy and objectives.”
William Hill largest single shareholder rejects potential merger with Amaya
The potential mega merger between William Hill and Amaya Gaming was recently dealt a massive blow after Parvus Asset Management, the largest single shareholder in the bookmaker, opposed the deal.
Last week, it was revealed that the two companies were in talks over a merger that could create a £5.7 billion (€6.3 billion/$7 billion) iGaming entity.
Parvus, a British investor, published an open letter to state its objections to the merger deal. According to Parvus, which controls 14.3% of William Hill’s stake, “limited strategic logic and would destroy shareholder value”.
Parvus has instead called on the betting firm to look at “all alternative options for maximizing shareholder value”.
Mads Eg Gensmann, co-founder of Parvus, said:
“It shouldn't take more than five minutes of the board's time to realize this deal doesn't pass the smell test.
“We strongly encourage that the board and management stops wasting valuable time and shareholder resources pursuing this value-destroying deal.”
William Hillspokesperson said:
“Given the strategic fit, diversification and potential synergies we have a responsibility to fully assess this, however it is premature for us to draw conclusions while this work is ongoing.
“The board would not come forward with a transaction unless it was satisfied that it was in the interests of all shareholders.”
If deal would be a game-changer, should the two parties join forces in the coming days. However, there are several obstacles in the middle that need to be taken care of. The iGaming industry could be in for a major shake-up if William Hill and Amaya Gaming eventually merge to form a giant new business.
Apple removes online gambling apps from App Store in Netherlands
One of the world’s biggest companies Apple has now decided to do away with online casino and sports betting mobile apps from its App Store in Netherlands.
The Tim Cook-led company decided to do so after a request from Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) national regulatory body.
The KSA released a statement on its website to reveal that 55 apps were removed from the App Store. This included the very popular online gaming apps of bwin.party and Unibet.
Since technology giant did not offer these apps on its Google Play store, Apple was the only company that did.
Since the country was in the process of formulating legislation for online gambling operators, the KSA wanted these apps to be banned.
As soon as the bill is passed by the upper house of parliament, the Dutch iGaming market will be open to private players. This is expected to happen before 2018.
The regulator went on to add that nearly 10,000 illegal downloads were prevent after the apps were removed from the App Store.
Online gaming industry set for shake up as William Hill, Amaya confirm merger talks
Two of the world’s biggest iGaming brands – William Hill and Amaya Gaming – are in talks to create a £5bn entity and an operation worth approximately £5.7bn.
Both parties have publicly acknowledged the fact that they are in talks to strike a deal. This effort began in July after Rank-888 bid for William Hill came out.
“Over recent months, the board of William Hill has been evaluating options to accelerate William Hill's strategy of increasing diversification by growing its digital and international businesses,” the firms said in a joint statement.
“Amaya has been undertaking a review of its strategic alternatives since February 2016.
“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.
“These discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”
Rank and 888 had earlier backed out of the deal to take full ownership of William Hill.
According to industry experts, William Hill could benefit a great deal from this deal by leveraging Amaya’s poker customers to boost its casino business.
While there are always risks with large mergers of this nature, one can however be relatively sure that the online gaming industry is bound to witness a huge change if they two companies join forces.
LeoVegas bags Denmark gaming license, set to go live this autumn
In a significant new development in the world of iGaming, LeoVegas has acquired the government license to venture into the Denmark market
The company intends to go live in Denmark this autumn. LeoVegas has put together a team with “extensive experience in digital marketing and the Danish gaming market” to implement its plans in the country.
LeoVegas management believes this move will help their expansion plans by “leveraging its global brand through local, business-oriented teams”, to build the “right prospects for a successful launch and long-term growth”.
Commenting on this development, Gustaf Hagman, chief executive and co-founder of LeoVegas, said:
“LeoVegas expansion continues, and it is gratifying to see how we grow in new markets.
“Our strategy to enter regulated markets or markets that are facing regulation seems like a winning concept.
“I am convinced that our market-leading mobile gaming product, data-driven marketing approach and a strong, local team will help ensure a successful launch in Denmark, where no one has yet taken the mobile position.”
Unibet Group set to rebrand, change name to Kindred Group
In an interesting new development, iGaming major Unibet is considering re-branding the company, which would be called Kindred Group.
With 10 consumer-facing brands in its kitty, the company intends to go with a name that permits it to“draw the full potential of these brands with a group name that differs from the consumer brand”.
The company will not just change its name but also design a new logo and identity. This it hopes will help serve multiple brands across a variety of markets.
The changes are part of a new strategy devised by the company when it comes to future operations.
This proposed change of name will only become official when Extraordinary General Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, approves it on December 6.
Commenting on this development, Unibet chairman of the board Anders Ström said:
“In this rapidly changing industry, clarity is essential; this is why we now propose to change the name of our group company, thereby avoiding confusion and creating better conditions for our future growth.
“This is a minor and predominantly internal change as all the customer facing brands, such as Unibet, MariaCasino, Bingo.com, Stan James and iGame will remain the same. The change only relates to the group name.”
Henrik Tjärnström, chief executive of further Unibet, added:
“Introducing a group name separate from our consumer-facing brands will provide us with the necessary strategic flexibility to ensure we remain at the very forefront of our industry.
“As a group we have played an important part in driving the industry forward, and we intend to continue to do so in the future.”