By Geoff Percival
Paddy Power-Betfair is one of only two interested parties left in the running to buy the Australian operations of British bookmaker William Hill, it is understood.
While UK players such as Ladbrokes and Bet365 had been heavily linked with bids, it is believed the only two interested parties are Paddy Power-Betfair — via its existing Australian online betting subsidiary Sportsbet — and Australian player CrownBet.
An industry source said Paddy Power has “definite interest” in the William Hill Australian business and will be participating in the bid process. A preferred bidder is expected in the coming days.
William Hill’s Australian business is being sold after exceptional charges as it pushed its parent group into overall loss-making territory for the first time in three years in 2017.
Sportsbet has long-since been viewed as being Paddy Power-Betfair’s most probable route to acquisition. 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.
Some analysts have suggested Canadian gambling business Stars Group, which last week acquired CrownBet, may be prepared to pay over the odds to land the William Hill assets in its haste to grow further in Australia.
Paddy Power-Betfair shares are down over 6% in the past year. They fell over 2% yesterday, on confirmation that chief financial officer Alex Gersh intends to step down after six years with the business before (with Betfair) and after its merger. The company publishes full year 2017 results tomorrow when it is expected to show earnings of around €530m.