In the United Kingdom and prominent high street bookmaker William Hill has reportedly launched a fundraising drive in hopes of bringing in approximately £200 million ($251 million) to better surmount the recent financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Tuesday report from the Financial Times newspaper, the London-listed operator is running a share offer for up to 19.99% of its existing equity after being forced to temporarily shutter every one of its 1,533 domestic bookmaking shops from March 23 as part of a government-led campaign to help stop the spread of the potentially-deadly coronavirus strain.
Although these venues were officially allowed to re-open from Monday, the newspaper reported that William Hill has so far only revived operations at some 734 United Kingdom locations and is continuing with cost-cutting measures that have seen it reduce staff salaries, decrease capital expenditures and scrap its most recent dividend payment.
The Financial Times reported this footfall reduction has been further compounded by the almost entire coronavirus-related cancellation or rescheduling of this summer’s global sporting calendar including such potentially lucrative extravaganzas as the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2020 UEFA European Football Championship. This latter move was purportedly a major factor in the bookmaker’s revenues from online sportsbetting dropping by almost a quarter year-on-year to further compound a halving of its aggregate revenue growth over the past six weeks.
However, the newspaper reported that William Hill has recently seen early signs of recovery thanks to the partial resumption of some sporting action such as the May 16 behind-closed-doors restart of Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga football league. The publication pronounced that this revival is set to be further aided by today’s sequestered recommencement of the ever-popular English Premier League and Royal Ascot horseracing spectacular.
The Financial Times reported that William Hill is moreover in line to benefit from a recent court ruling that is likely set to see it receive a tax rebate worth up to £150 million ($182 million). This return will purportedly give the London-headquartered firm enough cash to cover a coming bond and significantly boost investor confidence as the world continues to struggle with the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.