William Hill and GVC Holdings have been granted an extension to continue preparing a joint bid for Sportingbet. Hills/GVC were required to make a firm bid by 5 p.m. today and have instead decided to request another four-week extension. The takeover panel agreed and in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of The City Code on Takeovers the deadline was extended to 5 p.m. on December 4, 2012. Rumors of an extension first emerged over the weekend with sources close to both parties stating that more time was needed as everything was getting “a bit complicated”.
If the deal goes through, for their money Hills will get the market leading Ozzy business as well as an immediate foothold in the Spanish market that Ladbrokes is getting some joy from right now. Combine all this with what William Hill has already and the acquisition makes sense from a safety-first public company point of view. Getting GVC Holdings on board to take away the “grey market” is, in their eyes, a masterstroke and it’s given Hills the chance to seal a deal that Ladbrokes was unable to justify.
The price of the joint bid hasn’t changed and will still be around the £530million mark and this is the second time the bid has been extended after the original request for extra time on October 16. Hills will see their part of that as a small price to pay to get a business that is this well established in Australia. If you throw in the recently regulated Spanish business as well the deal starts to sound even sweeter and the alarm bells at Ladbrokes could well already be ringing. Now it’s over to the three of them to sort out their differences and complete the deal by which time we will ask: Market, what do you think?