William Hill Purchased Playtech’s Share In Joint Venture

22 April 2013 – By Jane Spiegel

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William Hill Online represented a joint venture between british online casino operator William Hill and one of the leading software developers in the world, Playtech. Recently, the partnership officially ended after William Hill completed its £ 424 million purchase of Playtech’s 29 percent share in their joint venture. The story of one of online gambling’s boldest patnerships began in December 2008 when Playtech injected £ 177 million worth of assets into William Hill’s existing internet operations. A couple of months later, Hill takes out injuction to prevent Playtech from selling its 29 percent stake in their William Hill Online joint-venture. Playtech, on the other side, uses its position within WHO to veto Hill’s purchase of mobile betting operator Probability.

In October 2011, the company’s plans to relocate all online operations to Gibraltar lead to protests from the employees. Around 300 William Hill Online staff in Israel, Bulgaria and the Philippines temporarily walk off the job in protest. In the spring of 2012, officials from both companies begin talks to salvage their joint venture. While Playtech says their company is open to discussing possible structural changes and to hearing new suggestions, Hill wants to end Playtech’s veto over acquisitions. Also, William Hill is concerned about Playtech’s policy and wants to receive a commitment that it will not work with arch-rival Ladbrokes. Despite all these discusions, later that year, Hill announces that it is considering activating its call option for Playtech’s share.

At the end of 2012, William Hill announces its intention of purchasing leading gambling and betting provider Sportingbet, despite Playtech’s intention to block the deal. In March 2013, William Hill makes the decision to active its call option on Playtech’s stake. In the same period, the company acquires Sportingbet for £ 460 million and takes its first steps into the burgeoning US online gambling market. Playtech also announces a deal with Hill rival Ladbrokes which enables Playtech to provide the gambling operator with advisory sevices and a full product suite. Finnaly, on April 15, 2013, William Hill plc completes the process and pays £ 423.75 million for Playtech's 29 percent stake, a cash-on-cash return of more than 3.5 times.

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