William Hill to Face Tough Decisions amid Stricter Regulatory Environment

For quite some time, one of the largest and most reputable bookmakers on a global scale – William Hill – has been dealing with some ups and downs on its way.

At the time when Philip Bowcock was officially announced as a Chief Executive Officer at a permanent basis, there are various media rumours that there was no other choice for the bookmaker which made the decision to remain as a separate entity with Mr. Bowcock as head of the company.

William Hill’s Chairman Gareth Davies disproved these rumours, calling Mr. Bowcock the most logical choice for the bookmaker at time when the company was seriously hit by the nationwide governmental review of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and the stricter regulatory system, which is getting tighter by the hour.

Despite all setbacks, for the time being, the bookmaker prefers to continue operating as a standalone company. As Casino Guardian reported earlier this year, the largest shareholder of William Hill, the British hedge fund Parvus Asset Management, has urged the company to consider a possible takeover deal. According to William Hill’s biggest investor, a merger with another online gaming operator would be beneficial for the UK bookmaker, as it would help it deal with the difficulties it has been facing recently.

At that time, 888 Holdings, GVC Holdings and The Rank Group were some of the potential partners for the bookmaker to carry out such a deal with. An interesting fact is that Parvus Asset Management reconsidered a possible merger with The Rank Group, despite the fact that the latter’s previous acquisition attempt in the summer of 2016 turned out to be unsuccessful.

The consortium formed by William Hill’s competitors Rank Grouop and 888 Holdings officially revealed it has abandoned its plans to acquire the British bookmaker, after submitting two bids in August 2016. In case that the deal was successful, the acquisition would have resulted in the establishment of the largest gaming operator on the territory of the UK and one of the biggest players on the global gaming arena.

Parvus has interfered with the decisions made by the UK-based gaming operator on previous occasions, too. It was exactly the bookmaker’s largest shareholder that blocked the potential merger between William Hill and the Canadian gaming company Amaya in October 2016, saying the deal had lacked strategic logic and would have had negative effect on shareholder value. Later, it turned out that after all, Parvus was willing to push the British bookmaker towards a merger or acquisition deal that would be a suitable match for the company. At the time when these intentions were revealed to the public, media rumours said that the only reason for Parvus Asset Management to aim at such a deal was the falling stock price of the company.

Now, some experts have expressed their beliefs that William Hill needs an acquisition in order to deal with the difficulties its online operations have been facing. The Chief Executive Officer, however, disagrees. According to Mr. Bowcock, William Hill is a company big and reputable enough in order to be able to operate as an independent entity.

Still, Mr. Bowcock has revealed there were some issues the company needs to deal with in order to strengthen its positions in the market. He, however, has not provided any actual clarity on the future plans of William Hill, although he said that the bookmaker’s management team was ready to listen to the arguments of any of its shareholders, no matter if it came to Parvus or anyone else.

  • Author
Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.
Daniel Williams
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