UK bookmaker William Hill and Canadian based Amaya Inc released a joint statement earlier this month confirming that the two companies were in talks for a possible merger. The joint statement relayed that while discussions were on-going, it may or may not result in a possible merger. Both companies believed that the merger would be mutually beneficial and create one of the largest gambling enterprises in the world.
When news broke of a possible merger between the two gaming companies, William Hill’s biggest shareholder Parvus Asset Management sent the board of directors an open letter that was extremely critical of the proposed deal. Parvus, which owns a 14.3 percent stake of the company, strongly objected to the merger and called for the board to abandon all merger plans as it would put shareholders at risk considering Amaya’s current position and reputation in the market.
One of the co-founders of Parvus, Mads Eg Gensmann stated that the merger did not even pass the smell test and asked the board to focus on increasing the value of William Hill shareholders instead of looking out for Amaya Inc’s shareholders. William Hill responded to the open letter by stating that discussions were currently on-going and that the board would only proceed with a transaction that was in the best interests of its shareholders.
PokerStars which is owned by Amaya also responded to some of the statements made by Parvus in a blog post titled ‘A Response to Inaccuracies Regarding our Business’. The blog post which was written by Eric Hollreiser, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya Inc highlighted the fact that PokerStars was the biggest online poker website in the world controlling more than 71 percent of the global online poker market and debunked allegations that the online poker market was in decline.
However it looks like the pressure imposed by William Hill’s largest shareholder has had an impact as William Hill released a statement and confirmed that after receiving feedback from a number of its major shareholders, the board decided that it would no longer pursue the merger with Amaya Inc and had informed the company that it was dropping out of all discussions.
In a statement, Divyesh Gadhia, chairman of Amaya said “Amaya is a strong and growing company with experienced management and a proven strategy to deliver profitable growth and shareholder value. Together with our financial advisors, we evaluated a wide range of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value and have concluded that remaining an independent company is in the best interest of Amaya’s shareholders at this time.”
Gensmann stated that he was pleased with William Hill’s decision to abandon its merger discussion with Amaya Inc and promised to work with the board to increase William Hill’s shareholder value.