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William Hill Shareholder Rejects Amaya Deal

The William Hill and Amaya merger talks may be in jeopardy with one of William Hill’s leading shareholders, Parvus Asset Management, making it known that they are opposed to any merger deal between the two companies.

Parvus is the largest single shareholder, holding 14.3 percent in the UK bookmaker, William Hill. The company has urged William Hill to look for other options for optimising shareholder value, stating that the merger has “limited strategic logic and would destroy shareholder value.”

It was revealed last week that the UK bookmaker, William Hill, which specialises in sports betting and the Canadian-based operator and operator of the leading PokerStars brand, Amaya, were in the midst of merger talks that if successful would result in a combined entity worth €6.3 billion.

“It shouldn’t take more than five minutes of the board’s time to realise this deal doesn’t pass the smell test,” Mads Eg Gensmann, cofounder of Parvus, stated to Reuters.

“We strongly encourage that the board and management stops wasting valuable time and shareholder resources pursuing this value-destroying deal.”

Ralph Topping, who retired as chief executive of William Hill in 2014 after eight years as its head, backed the view of Parvus, saying that he fully supports Parvus’ actions.

“When this deal was announced I was left scratching my head,” said Topping. “Both [Amaya and William Hill] have a lot to sort out in their own business.”

A William Hill spokesperson responded to these views, saying: “Given the strategic fit, diversification and potential synergies we have a responsibility to fully assess this; however it is premature for us to draw conclusions while this work is ongoing.”

“The board would not come forward with a transaction unless it was satisfied that it was in the interests of all shareholders.”

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