Caesars’ £2.9bn acquisition of William Hill to close on 22 April after receiving High Court approval

Caesars Entertainment’s acquisition of the UK bookmaker William Hill is set to close on Thursday 22 April after the High Court of Justice in England and Wales approved the transaction.

The deal was initially set to close on 1 April, however it faced a legal challenge from the investment management fund HBK Investments.

HBK argued that shareholders were not correctly informed on the details of the takeover. The firm’s main concerns surrounded William Hill’s joint venture with Eldorao Resorts from 2019. Eldorado went onto acquire and rebrand the business as Caesars last year.

The investment management business argued that Caesars’ ability to restrict counterbidders under the terms of the agreement was more limited than documents suggested.

While a scheme court hearing to approve the acquisition was set for 31 March, HBK’s legal challenge resulted in a three week delay. However, the deal has now been approved by the High Court of Justice in England and Wales.

The takeover receives High Court approval

Now that the High Court has approved the transaction, the deal may go ahead and close later this week on Thursday 22 April.

As a result of the deal, William Hill’s shares will be de-listed and suspended before the market opens on 22 April.

According to a report from This is Money, last week hedge funds were buying up shares in William Hill during its delay in receiving High Court approval for the deal.

The report cited sources from “the city” which said that hedge funds including Sand Grove, TIG, and Melart had been purchasing stakes for £2.75 a share last week, more than Caesars’ initial offer.

Terms of the deal

The deal was agreed in September 2020 after William Hill accepted Caesars’ £2.9bn ($4.03bn) offer over a rival offer from Apollo Global.

Caesars made the offer after Eldorado Resorts completed its $17.3bn reverse-merger deal of the US company in July 2020. This deal put 55 casinos under Eldorado’s control and saw it rebrand as Caesars.

Under the deal, Caesars will acquire William Hill’s 1.08bn shares for £2.72 a pop.

The US casino giant’s main target of the acquisition is William Hill’s US sports betting business and technology. Caesars has said it intends to sell off the rest of William Hill’s assets once the deal is finalised.

Once the deal was agreed upon, Caesars began the process of securing legal approval in the US from the relevant regulatory authorities in states where the operator conducts business. William Hill shareholders voted to approve the deal in November 2020.

The US casino operator said that the enlarged operation could generate up to $700m in net revenue during the 2021 financial year.

According to a breakdown of its group-wide costs included in its latest financial report, William Hill spent £70m in direct costs attached to Caesar’s takeover offer.