William Hill to Buy Playtech in 2013?
Is UK gambling giant William Hill going to buy Playtech in 2013? Yes, if you believe the rumors. The two companies are partners in a long term online venture which accounts for 40% of the bookmaker’s operating profits.
William Hill Online (WHO) is a complex joint venture in which the Israeli gaming software company Playtech owns a 29% share. William Hill’s chief executive, Ralph Topping, said he and the chairman, Gareth Davis, met on a monthly basis with counterparts at Playtech. “Discussions about the future are positive … despite colourful episodes over the past three years [the joint venture] has been good for their investors and good for our investors. The current arrangement is one that needs to change – both organisations recognise that.”
Despite tough economic conditions in the UK, William Hill is continuing to grow. WHO operating profits grew by 17% to £107m while profits from William Hill’s traditional betting shops fell 4% to £197m. The group is Britain’s largest bookmaker, with almost 2,400 shops.
At the start of next year, William Hill has the option to acquire the 29% stake in WHO that it does not already own and now looks certain to seize this opportunity to take full control. Playtech is one of the biggest software infrastructure providers in the online gambling industry.