William Hill and Sportingbet cut takeover price

WILLIAM HILL’S drawn-out takeover of online bookie Sportingbet took another twist yesterday, as the parties cut the price of the deal.

Sportingbet, which is set to be carved up by William Hill and GVC Holdings, agreed to reduce its price from the £530m previously agreed to around £485m.

The deal was cut yesterday as a 5pm deadline loomed. A new timeframe was agreed for the third time yesterday, with William Hill and GVC now required to make a firm bid for the company by 5pm on 18 December.

The reduced price comes after Sportingbet revealed a dismal set of first-quarter results last week, posting a 35 per cent decline in revenues.

William Hill considered whether Sportingbet was worth as much as previously agreed over the weekend, and came back to the company with a reduced offer this week.

It cut the amount that it and GVC will pay from 61.1p per share to 56.1p. It will be paid for in cash, a final dividend, and GVC shares.

The deal will see William Hill take Sportingbet’s lucrative Australian operations among others, while GVC will own the less stable businesses in unregulated markets.

The issues surrounding unregulated online gaming were laid bare yesterday, with William Hill announcing it would pull out of the Greek market, following a government clampdown on online bookies operating without a licence. William Hill and Betfair – which announced it would leave Greece last week – claim the country’s gaming laws violate European ones.

Online sports betting in Greece is dominated by Opap, which is partly owned by the state and is the only licensed operator. The European Commission has vowed to charge countries that adopt such measures.