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$1B Takeover Pitch For 888Poker Falls Through

Preliminary Offer Of $1.1 Billion Was Too Low, 888 Says

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Discussions about a possible William Hill takeover of online gambling firm 888 Holdings are over, 888 said Monday.

The Gibraltar-based web gambling business, which is offering online gaming in New Jersey thanks to a partnership with Caesars, confirmed the negotiations last week. William Hill, one of the largest sports book operators in the world, was seeking to buy 888 for $1.1 billion. 888 thought the price was too low.

As a result, it looks like a “firm offer” was never made because the two sides were far apart.

888 said it “had a number of discussions with William Hill and its advisers concerning a possible recommended offer, valued at 200 pence plus a 3 pence dividend per share. 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.”

Shares of 888 fell as much as 18 percent when news broke that the discussions were over, the biggest intraday decline since April 2011 (Black Friday), according to a report from Bloomberg.

Brian Mattingley, CEO of 888, said in a statement that 888 “is in good health and continues to trade comfortably in line with expectations.” He added that the company “will announce its full year results on Mar. 24 and the [company] looks forward to the future with confidence.”

In addition to 888’s existing relationship with the WSOP for online poker in New Jersey and Nevada, it is the back-end technology for online gaming in Delaware.

888 is one of the firms most poised to benefit from an opening up of the American market to online gaming. It’s been a slow process, but 888 has a solid foundation in the U.S.