William Hill shares rise as online betting improves

Shares in the company were up about 2% at 288.7 pence in London, valuing the bookie at almost £2.5bn (€2.9bn). However, shares have slid 27% this year.


The company, which pulled the plug on merger talks with Canadian online gambling company Amaya last month, said it expects full-year operating profit to be at the top end of its forecast of £260m to £280m.


In a separate development, Amaya, which owns gambling websites PokerStars and Full Tilt, said it has received a takeover offer.


Even at the top end, William Hill’s operating profit would be lower than £291.4m reported for 2015.


The company said online net revenue rose 4% for the period from June 29 to October 25, after contracting 3% in the first half of the year. It identified £30m of cost savings that it would implement these by 2017.


The company had said in July that it needed to do more to fix its online business after it posted a 16% slide in first-half operating profit.


The bookmaker, set to lose its market leadership in the latest round of industry consolidation, turned down an approach from smaller online rival 888 Group and casino operator Rank in July.


Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday Amaya’s former chief executive, David Baazov, has offered to buy the Canadian online gambling company in a deal valued at about C$3.48bn (€2.35bn).


Mr Baazov, who already owns about 17.2% of Amaya, including options, said yesterday he made the offer on behalf of a to-be-formed entity led by him. Amaya had said in February it had received a non-binding proposal from Mr Baazov to take the company private.


Two months after Mr Baazov made the offer, he was charged with insider trading by Quebec’s securities regulator, and the company said he was taking an indefinite paid leave of absence.


The charges followed an investigation into Mr Baazov and other executives in 2014 for trading in Amaya’s stock ahead of its $4.9bn takeover of PokerStars-owner Rational Group. William Hill and Amaya abandoned merger talks in October.






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