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Yahoo BusinessSep 25, 2020
Investors Gamble on a Bidding War for William Hill
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It feels a bit soon to declare jackpot. The market is betting on a heated auction after U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc confirmed a Bloomberg News report of bid interest from buyout shop Apollo Global Management Inc., adding that its U.S. partner, Caesars Entertainment Inc., is circling too.But there must be some doubt over whether a deal really can be done much above the levels investors are hoping for.William Hill stock has settled around 290 pence, about a 70% premium to the company's share price the day before Apollo submitted a written offer on Aug. 27. That's around 50% above the share price just before the pandemic gripped markets in late February, and one-third above William Hill's closing price on Thursday. It's as if a deal has already been done and investors are simply waiting for it to close.The company isn't revealing the price, but what's on the table was evidently good enough for talks. If it is at the levels the market is expecting, that would suggest a very high degree of faith on the part of the bidders.An agreement at 300 pence would cost the buyer 3.5 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) including assumed net debt. That would value William Hill at nearly 14 times next year's forecast Ebitda. U.K.-listed peer GVC Holdings Plc was on 8.2 times expected 2021 Ebitda before rallying in sympathy.As with so many bids at this time, it may look opportunistic. William Hill raised equity to cut debt earlier in the pandemic. It has been closing sites in the U.K. and it offers growth through its for
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