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William Hill confirms it is in merger talks with Canadian online gambling group and PokerStars operator Amaya

Francesca Washtell
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Melbourne Racing
William Hill sponsors the Melbourne racing and has a business arm in Australia (Source: Getty)

Bookmaker William Hill has confirmed it is in talks for an all-share merger worth around £5bn with Canadian online gambling group Amaya.

A tie-up of the two groups would "create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino", William Hill said in a statement today.

The bookie said discussions are "ongoing" and there can be no certainty an agreement will be reached, though both companies have been evaluating ways to diversify their businesses for several months.

Read more: William Hill faces protests tomorrow over retail restructuring plan

Other bids for the owner of website PokerStars have come in from UK firm GVC Holdings and a number of other private equity firms, Canada's Globe and Mail reported.

Amaya's shares were trading at CA21.48 in Toronto yesterday, giving it a market cap of around CA$3.1bn (£1.9bn).

Over the summer, FTSE 250-listed William Hill rejected a three-way merger offer from Rank Group and 888 Holdings. An original takeover offer valued the company at £3.6bn, though Rank and 888 later topped up a stock element of the deal for Will Hill shareholders.

Read more: William Hill shares shoot up after Rank and 888 deal falters

Although William Hill is one of the most recognisable high street betting brands, it has struggled to gain a strong foothold in the online market.

Shares in the group plunged in March when it warned of a £25m fall in online profits this year and chief executive James Henderson announced he would resign in July after failing to turn around its e-gambling operations.

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