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UPDATE 2-Caesars shoots lower than expected with $3.7 bln William Hill bid

Mon, 28th Sep 2020 07:46

* Caesars eyeing 272p/share offer, far below market
expectations

* William Hill shares down 12% after surging on Friday

* Board says minded to recommend offer at this level

* But equity group Apollo also named as interested bidder
(Adds shares, outlook, details on equity raise, joint venture)

By Tanishaa Nadkar

Sept 28 (Reuters) - Caesars is in advanced talks
with William Hill on a takeover offer that values the
British bookmaker at 2.9 billion pounds and would give the
casino operator full control of a quickly expanding U.S.
sports-betting and online business.

In a joint statement on Monday, the companies said that
Caesars was considering offering 272 pence per share for William
Hill and that the board of the UK company was minded to
recommend such an offer to shareholders.

However, the bid follows a surge in William Hill shares on
Friday to more than 312 pence per share after the company said
it had received offers from both Caesars and buyout group Apollo
Global Management Inc, suggesting that a bidding war was
in the offing.

Shares in William Hill handed back almost all of Friday's
gains on Monday to trade at 275.2 pence, suggesting that even if
Apollo counters, investors now expect the price to be far lower.

"The opportunity to combine our land based-casinos, sports
betting and online gaming in the US is a truly exciting
prospect," Caesars Chief Executive Officer Tom Reeg said.

"William Hill's sports betting expertise will complement
Caesars' current offering."

Caesars only holds 20% of its U.S. joint venture with
William Hill but the business is built on a presence in Caesars
casinos and its brand name, which the casino owner said it would
have the right to terminate in the event of an Apollo buyout.

To fund the deal, Caesars said it was announcing a new
equity raise, and would also take out $2 billion of new debt
secured against William Hill's non-US businesses.

"Together with iGaming, which is currently outside the scope
of the joint venture, Caesars expects that the enlarged sports
and online gaming business in the US could generate between
US$600-US$700 million in net revenue in FY2021," the statement
said.

The offer comes soon after Eldorado Resorts completed its
bigger rival Caesars for about $8.5 billion, creating a new
competitor for larger sector players like Las Vegas Sands
and Wynn Resorts.
($1 = 0.7832 pounds)
(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by
Ramakrishnan M. and Patrick Graham)

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