William Hill and Amaya abandon merger talks

William Hill horserace Image copyright PA

British bookmaker William Hill and Amaya, owner of the world's biggest online poker business, have ended talks of a possible £4.5bn merger.

William Hill said it took the decision after canvassing views from a number of major shareholders.

Last week, its biggest investor, Parvus Asset Management, heavily criticised the tie-up.

Canada's Amaya, which owns PokerStars, said that remaining independent was the best move for shareholders.

Amaya said: "Discussions have concluded, and Amaya and William Hill have determined that they will no longer pursue the merger."

'Limited logic'

News of the talks emerged earlier this month, with William Hill saying a merger would create "a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino".

However, Parvus said the deal had "limited strategic logic" and would "destroy shareholder value".

The FTSE 250 bookmaker is looking to keep up as many of its close rivals merge. Paddy Power and Betfair have merged to create a FTSE 100 betting firm, while Ladbrokes and Coral are combining to become the UK's biggest High Street bookmaker.

Ladbrokes reported a 12% rise in third-quarter revenue on Tuesday, boosted by online growth and poor results for fan-favourites Manchester United and Barcelona.

William Hill, which ousted its chief executive in July after a string of profit warnings, saw off a takeover approach from casino firm Rank and online operator 888 two months ago.

Meanwhile, Amaya's shares have fallen 30% in the past 12 months amid an insider trading investigation into its former chief executive, the threat of a $870m (£710m) fine in Kentucky, and slowing prospects for online poker.

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