After last week failing in its joint $4 billion bid to buy competitor William Hill, British land-based casino and bingo operator The Rank Group has announced that it is still on the lookout for merger and acquisition targets and intends to strengthen its business by expanding its online services.
According to a report from the Reuters news service, The Rank Group had wanted to secure joint control of William Hill in partnership with online gambling firm 888 Holdings but gave up its pursuit on Thursday after stating that it had not been able to meaningfully engage with its target’s board of directors.
Maidenhead-based The Rank Group, whose business is predominantly in the United Kingdom where it operates the Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos chains, revealed that it was still scouting for potential deals as the company posted a 4% rise year-on-year in annual adjusted profit before tax to $102 million and lifted its full-year dividend by 16%.
“The company has been looking at mergers and acquisitions for the last 18 months and continues to do so and there is definitely a focus on the digital arena for that,” Henry Birch, Chief Executive Officer for The Rank Group, told Reuters.
In its preliminary financial results for the twelve months to the end of June, The Rank Group reported that adjusted profit before tax increased year-on-year due the strengthening of its multi-channel offerings although overall revenues improved by just 2% to $979.9 million while online revenues grew by 11%.
Birch told Reuters that his company intended to introduce a single account and wallet service across its retail and online businesses, which will allow customers greater on-the-go access, while moreover launching a new online bingo brand in the next twelve months.
The Rank Group declared that trading in the seven weeks to August 14 had been “positive” and in line with expectations while adding that it expected little or no direct impact on its performance from the United Kingdom’s vote in June to leave the European Union.
“Rank management and, we infer, the majority shareholder, has made it clear that The Rank Group is open to participating in the consolidation of the sector,” Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones told Reuters. “Today’s results show that it will be ready when the right offer comes along.”