William Hill’s acquisition by Caesars Entertainment could occur early in the second quarter of the year, possibly as early as March, says the betting group in a 2020 trading update.
The £2.9bn transaction, dubbed a “historic acquisition,” was first detailed in September, with Caesars’ current expectation being that the remaining approvals to be obtained from the relevant US gaming authorities will be obtained according to the aforementioned timeframe.
William Hill, which is to publish its final 2020 results statement on Wednesday 24 February 2021, says that a “strong fourth quarter” closed “an extraordinary year” for the group.
With total Q4 revenue increasing nine per cent, sports betting stakes surged 16 per cent driven by enhanced products and geographical expansion. As gross win margins benefitted from favourable sporting results, group sportsbook net revenue is reported as up 20 per cent year-on-year.
However due to the impact of the pandemic on live sport, in addition to the numerous retail shutdowns enacted throughout the year, group net revenue for the year is reported to have decreased by 16 per cent to £1.32bn.
Ulrik Bengtsson, CEO of William Hill, explained: “2020 was a year like no other. It tested our agility and flexibility and we delivered, keeping our customers and team safe, whilst materially improving our competitive position through product enhancements and geographical expansion.
“The offer received for the group recognises the substantial progress we have made as well as the opportunities and challenges ahead of us. I remain immensely proud of the William Hill team which has been relentless in its focus on delivering a great product and service to our customers, with player safety at its heart. Customer, team, execution have been our guiding lights through this unusual year, and they will remain so as we look forward through 2021.”
On a pro-forma basis online international revenue jumped 12 per cent in 2020, benefitting from the successful integration of Mr Green, which also launched in two new regions.
The group also says that the delivery of product improvements and effective implementation of a multi-brand strategy offset regulatory headwinds and the absence of live sport during part of the year. Online UK net revenue increased five per cent.
Over in the US, full year net revenue rose 32 per cent, driven by strong growth online. The absorption of Caesars’ in-person sportsbook onto the William Hill platform, coupled with five new states of entry, produced a Q4 revenue surge of 121 per cent.
Retail revenue for the year decreased 30 per cent, however, the company adds that under the current circumstances, it does not expect to claim any further job retention related support.