William Hill Secures Competition Clearance to Buy Mr Green

William Hill’s proposed £242-million acquisition of fellow gambling operator Mr Green receives approvals from competition authorities

British gambling operator William Hill announced today that it has received all the necessary approvals from competition authorities to acquire online gaming and betting company Mr Green & co AB (MRG) for SEK2.8 billion (approximately £242 million).

MRG now has up until January 17, 2019 to accept the recommended cash offer, William Hill further pointed out in a statement from earlier today.

The major British gambling company made the takeover bid in October 2018. It announced back then that it was seeking to buy its fellow gambling operator in a £242-million deal that was recommended by William Hill shareholders. The company plans to pay in cash for MRG’s shares.

Now as William Hill has obtained approvals from the competition authorities in all necessary jurisdictions, the transaction is “no longer conditional upon any approvals from authorities,” the British operator said in today’s statement.

As mentioned earlier, the last date for the offer to be accepted is January 17. William Hill said today that it will announce on or around January 21 whether the conditions of the offer have been satisfied and if they have been, settlement is expected to begin on or around January 25.

Reducing UK Impact

William Hill cited a number of reasons why it has decided to approach MRG with a takeover offer, but its effort to reduce its exposure to the UK gambling market is certainly among the most important ones.

In its domestic market, William Hill, alongside other companies with retail gambling operations, are facing a clampdown on the highly lucrative FOBTs sector. The UK government is set to implement this spring a massive reduction on the maximum stake accepted by the controversial devices from £100 to just £2. William Hill is the second largest operator of FOBTs in the country and the looming crackdown will have a severe impact on its business.

The British bookmaker also seeks to strengthen its online gambling business as the UK government has introduced a 6% increase of the 15% remote gambling duty paid by locally licensed companies. In fact, the operator, which has a rich retail betting heritage, has long been looking for a suitable digital partner to help it improve its online operations.

William Hill also said last year that the acquisition of MRG, which is headquartered in Malta, will help the company secure a ready-made base in the European Union in the post-Brexit era. The British operator’s business is currently run from Gibraltar.

William Hill expects synergy benefits of no less than £6 million a year from the takeover of MRG. These are to be achieved progressively and their full delivery is expected by the third year after the completion of the transaction.

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