Business Irish

Sunday 11 December 2016

Rank seeks new deals after failed bid for William Hill

Noor Zainab Hussain

Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30

Rank and online gambling firm 888 Holdings had wanted to jointly take over rival William Hill but they gave up their pursuit last Thursday
Rank and online gambling firm 888 Holdings had wanted to jointly take over rival William Hill but they gave up their pursuit last Thursday

British casino operator Rank Group is still on the lookout for M&A opportunities after talks over a joint bid for William Hill ended last week, and will expand its online services to strengthen its business.

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Gambling faces higher taxes and tighter regulations in Europe, and a series of mergers has intensified competition as firms market themselves to younger sports fans betting via mobile apps.

Rank and online gambling firm 888 Holdings had wanted to jointly take over rival William Hill but they gave up their pursuit last Thursday, saying they had not been able to meaningfully engage with William Hill's board.

Rank, whose business is predominantly in Britain where it owns the Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos chains, was still scouting for deals, its head said yesterday, after the company posted a 4pc rise in annual profit but lifted its full-year dividend by 16pc.

"The company has been looking at M&A for the last 18 months and continues to do so and there is definitely a focus on the digital arena for that," ceo Henry Birch told Reuters.

He declined to say whether Rank was now pursuing a two-way deal with 888.

Adjusted profit before tax rose 4pc to £77.4m (€90.1m) in the year ended June 30, helped by efforts to strengthen its multi-channel offer.

Revenue rose just 2pc to £743m, but online revenue grew 11pc, Rank said.

Birch said Rank would introduce a single account and single wallet across its retail and online businesses, allowing its customers greater on-the-go access.

It would also launch a new online bingo brand in the second half of the financial year ending next June. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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