Second William Hill bid rejected by Sportingbet

WILLIAM HILL’S proposed takeover of online bookie Sportingbet looks set to go down to the wire this week, after the Sportingbet board knocked back a second bid for the company last week.

Sources close to negotiations said yesterday that William Hill, together with GVC Holdings, made an improved informal bid for Sportingbet late last week, after a formal offer of 52.5p per share was rejected last month. The new offer, at over 55p a share, was a significant improvement but still short of the 60p or more that Sportingbet wants.

“They are holding out for an increased offer, they have made some headway but it’s not enough,” one person close to discussions between the companies said.

The firms now have until 5pm tomorrow to thrash out a deal, although the deadline could be extended if a price is close to being agreed. “There has to be progress that the Sportingbet board are happy with,” one source said. “There need to be headline terms agreed in principle. Both sides are fully aware of what [William Hill] needs to offer. ”

Discussions have continued over the weekend, although valuations are still some way apart. Sportingbet is not believed to be willing to accept an offer lower than 60p, although this still may not be enough. Analysts at Numis Securities value the firm at 90p a share.

William Hill, which reports third-quarter results on Friday, is believed to fancy Sportingbet’s Australian operations, with GVC mopping up less desirable parts of the business.