Advent Joins 888 & Apollo in Bid for William Hill’s Non-US Sports Betting Shops
Private equity firm Advent International has expressed interest in William Hill’s non-US assets, which Caesars Entertainment plans to put for auction now. According to the reports by a British newspaper, Advent International will be competing with its private equity rival Apollo Global and the Gibraltar-based gambling company 888 Holdings.
Until last week, Apollo Global Management was being considered the most favorite entity to win William Hill’s international business. But then Entain – another UK-based international gambling company – reportedly joined Apollo and 888 in considering a bid.
Entain is the parent company of BetMGM through its partnership with Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International.
What Do We Know About William Hill’s Non-US Operations?
Caesars Entertainment announced last September it is acquiring the British bookmaker William Hill for nearly $3.7 billion. Months before the Las Vegas-based hotel and casino company completed the acquisition of William Hill in April 2021, it had made clear it wanted to shed William Hill’s non-US assets once the purchase is complete.
Caesars has already commenced an auction for the British firm’s 1,400 betting shops, allowing the interested bidders to submit initial proposals by Tuesday.
Advent’s unexpected entry will further intensify the competition, which many believe reflects the potential of the UK sports betting market and growing opportunities in the European gaming industry.
Can Advent Win a Bid?
Though Advent’s entry intensifies the competition, it is unlikely to win a bid. The global private equity firm focused on buyouts of companies in Europe, the Americas, and Asia has invested in as many as 376 enterprises across 42 countries.
But unlike Apollo and 888 as well as Entain, Advent International lacks expertise in gaming. Of the 376 companies in which Advent has invested, none are casinos or sports betting entities.
In contrast, Apollo is a renowned name in global sports betting, including in Europe. And 888 is a gaming company directly involved with iGaming and online poker. Before Advent indicated its interest in William Hill’s non-US operations, 888 and Apollo were widely seen as the leading contenders.
Apollo Vs. Advent
Though Apollo is the favorite, the eleventh-hour arrival of Advent International onto the scene is unexpected. Like Apollo, the Boston-based Advent has enough resources to buy the assets.
Advent is the sixth-largest private equity company in the world (Apollo is number four), meaning the two companies can give each other fierce competition during the auction expected to begin at $1.65 billion. Some analysts say the bidding could stretch to $2 billion.
While Entain and Betfred – both UK-based bookmakers – have reportedly shown interest in the William Hill, the industry experts are betting on Apollo as the most favorite to win a bid.
Apollo, Most Likely to Win a Bid
Apollo appears to be the most likely candidate to win a bid eventually. Last year, the company contested with Caesars for a complete purchase of the British bookmaker. But Caesars, which had already been collaborating with William Hill for the US partnership, threatened it would scrap a deal if the British company opted for any other bid.
Realizing the impossibility to acquire a complete purchase, Apollo immediately changed its position to express interest in the company’s non-US businesses, which Caesars had indicated to dispose of.
For now, Apollo, 888, and Advent are the primary bidders for William Hill’s European assets. But the number may increase as the auction process is still in its early phase.