William Hill mulls joint offer for Sportingbet as eyes Aussie unit

WILLIAM HILL is weighing a joint takeover of online gambling rival Sportingbet in a deal that would secure it possession of the firm’s lucrative Australian operations.

Sportingbet’s Australian operations account for over 90 per cent of Sportingbet’s profits and comprise around a third of Australia’s internet gambling market.

The betting operator said yesterday that together with GVC Holdings it is considering making a joint offer for the business which is valued at around £330m.

William Hill would cherrypick the Australian business, with GVC acquiring most of the rest.

“The boards of William Hill and GVC believe that by acting in combination they represent a highly credible possible offer for the entire Sportingbet business, substantially in cash,” they said.

Sportingbet said that it had not yet received any approach in a short statement later yesterday and advised shareholders not to take any action.

The firms need to make a formal offer or walk away by 16 October, according to takeover rules.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes held takeover talks with Sportingbet last year but called them off because of concerns over regulatory issues in Turkey. Sportingbet has since sold its Turkish operations.

Sportingbet shares have risen steadily over the last three months. They closed up 16 per cent yesterday at 51p.