William Hill fails in 888 takeover bid

<p>An 888 shareholder has deemed William Hill’s takeover bid to be too low.</p>

Takeover talks between William Hill and 888 have collapsed after the online gambling site deemed the offer to be too low.

888 Holdings confirmed last week that the pair were in discussion over a merger but The Times, which originally reported the story, stated that one of 888's major shareholders was holding out for a more lucrative deal. The announcement prompted a 20 per cent surge in 888's share price putting the value at around £750 million.

The talks now look to have broken down after 888 confirmed that there was a "significant difference of opinion" when it came to the value of the company. William Hill had offered 200p a share for 888 which placed the overall bid at around £700 million, something which shareholders felt was not an acceptable offer.

Following the announcement, 888 saw shares plummet by 14 per cent which at William Hill, its share price grew marginally, edging up 0.6 per cent.

888 said in a statement: "Due to a significant difference of opinion on value with a key stakeholder, it has not been possible to reach agreement on the terms of a possible offer and the board of the company has agreed with William Hill to terminate discussions."

Varied interests

888, founded in 1997 by Israeli brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked and Shay and Ron Ben-Yitzhak, is made up of a number of investors. The family trusts of these two parties makes up around around 60 per cent which the Ben-Yitzhak owns around ten per cent of 888 shares, compared to 24 per cent by the Shaked family.

This ownership means that they have the ability to veto any potential takeover bid that they feel does not meet the expected criteria. This has been the case in terms of William Hill and it now remains to be seen whether the bookmaker returns with an improved offer for the firm.

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