By Geoff Percival
Paddy Power-Betfair is understood not to be in the running to acquire the Australian arm of British betting firm William Hill.
William Hill’s Australian business is on the block after exceptional charges pushed its parent into overall loss-making territory for the first time in three years last year. Analysts expect a preferred bidder to be announced in the coming days.
UK groups such as Ladbrokes and Bet365 have been linked with a bid, as has Sportsbet, Paddy Power- Betfair’s Australian online subsidiary.
However, one industry source said the latter is not in the mix.
Regulatory and tax changes look set to usher in a wave of consolidation in Australia’s online betting market, with existing players needing to scale-up to offset higher taxes.
Both Paddy Power and William Hill had been linked to a majority stake in local player CrownBet, which has just been acquired by Canadian gambling business Stars Group. Under its new ownership, CrownBet has now been linked to a move for William Hill Australia.
Sportsbet is viewed as being Paddy Power-Betfair’s most probable route to acquisition. The group’s shares were hit badly in January on the back of the boss of its Australian unit leaving
and analysts casting doubt on it meeting its online revenue growth targets. Paddy Power shares were marginally down yesterday.
Davy said the strategic value of William Hill Australia has “arguably now risen” with other operators “presumably keen to block Stars from further increasing its scale in the [Australian online] market.”