William Hill is one of the most well known bookmakers in the world and operates the biggest network of betting outlets in the United Kingdom, while Amaya Inc, the parent company for PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world is based in Canada. Both companies released a joint statement on October 7, 2016 confirming that they were in discussions for a possible merger.
In a statement, a representative for William Hill said “The Boards of William Hill and Amaya note the recent press speculation and confirm that they are in discussions regarding a potential all share merger of equals. The merger would create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino”.
Amaya Inc has faced an interesting period in 2016 after its chief executive officer David Baazov expressed interest to buyout the company by paying C$21 per share and taking the company private. Amaya created a special committee to review the proposal from Baazov as well as other interested parties but the very next month, the Autorité des marchés financiers, which is the securities regulator in Quebec, filed charges against Baazov and his associates over insider trading.
As a result, Baazov decided to temporarily resign from his post till he cleared his name. He was succeeded on an interim basis by Rafi Ashkenazi who was later made permanent in August 2016 after Baazov decided to permanently resign from all positions within the company. Unconfirmed sources also stated that Baazov would not submit any proposal to buyout Amaya Inc.
William Hill wanted to acquire 888 Holdings in 2015, the parent company of 888poker, the second largest online poker website in the world, but was unable to make a bid that was attractive enough for 888 Holdings. Earlier this year, 888 Holdings and The Rank Group joined forces to submit a proposal and buyout William Hill, but was unsuccessful after two attempts were rejected by William Hill as they were not high enough.
William Hill and Amaya Inc have confirmed that even though they are in discussions for a possible merger, it may or may not result in a possible merger. Should things work out and an agreement is made, it will be based on an all share merger of equals. William Hill has been looking for new ways to increase its global presence and online business and a merger with Amaya Inc will help hit those strategic goals. William Hill has struggled to grow its online gambling business and informed shareholders in March 2016 that the company would have a £25 million decline in online profits.
The joint statement caused Amaya Inc share prices to shoot up to C$23.41 which was a 9 percent increase, making it the highest share price in the last 10 months. There are also unconfirmed rumors that GVC Holdings and a few private equity companies have also expressed interest in acquiring Amaya Inc.