Slaughters, Allen & Overy and Norton Rose Fulbright lead on £3.2bn William Hill bid

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Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy (A&O) and Norton Rose Fulbright are advising on the takeover bid for William Hill by gambling companies Rank Group and 888 Holdings.

The bid, which values the bookmaker at a reported £3.2bn, was rejected yesterday (9 August) by William Hill’s board.

The proposed deal would be structured via a merger of 888 and Rank Group to create a new company, BidCo, which would then acquire William Hill for cash and shares in BidCo.

William Hill chairman Gareth Davis said the offer “substantially undervalues” the company and “does not reflect the inherent value of the business”.

Slaughters is acting for William Hill, while A&O is advising 888, with corporate partners Ed Barnett and Annabelle Croker leading the firm’s team.

Norton Rose Fulbright is advising Rank Group, with a team led by the firm’s EMEA head of corporate Raj Karia, and corporate partner Chris Randall.

There has been significant consolidation in the UK gambling sector in the past year, which has led to plum M&A mandates for firms including A&O, Slaughters, Ashurst and Addleshaw Goddard.

In July 2015, A&O acted for 888 on its bid for bwin.party, with Barnett and Croker also taking key roles. 888 was pipped to the post on that deal, with GVC Holdings successfully acquiring bwin.party for a reported £1.1bn. Addleshaw Goddard acted for longstanding client GVC on that deal, with corporate partner Nick Pearey taking the lead.

Other recent deals in the sector include the tie-up between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral and the merger between Paddy Power and Betfair. Slaughters acted for Ladbrokes on that deal, with corporate head Andy Ryde taking the lead, while Ashurst acted for Gala Coral with a team led by London managing partner Simon Beddow.

On the latter transaction, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer acted for Betfair with corporate partner Oliver Lazenby and senior partner Edward Braham in the lead, while Arthur Cox advised Paddy Power, with corporate partner Maura McLaughlin at the helm.