A German sports-betting group owned by one of the world’s largest private equity firms has joined the £1.5bn race to take control of William Hill’s operations in Britain.
Sky News has learnt that Tipico, which is majority-owned by CVC Capital Partners, is among a handful of bidders vying for the gambling giant’s high street shops and continental European assets.
City sources said that Tipico Group had tabled a “credible” offer for William Hill, which was acquired by Caesars Entertainment of the US in a £2.9bn deal.
Caesars wants to sell the company’s famous brand and all of its operations outside the US, and has hired advisers from Deutsche Bank to conduct an auction.
William Hill has more than 1,400 betting shops in the UK
Tipico, which was bought by CVC in 2016, is up against bids from Apollo Global Management, 888 Holdings and Betfred, according to industry sources.
Advent International, another private equity firm, is no longer involved in the process, while Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes, is understood to have decided against submitting a formal offer.
One analyst said on Thursday that they expected the level of interest to push the eventual price above £1.5bn
If successful, a deal with Tipico would reunite CVC and William Hill, one of the UK’s best-known bookmakers, after nearly two decades.
The London-headquartered private equity firm and Cinven bought the betting business in 1999 for £825m, before floating it on the London Stock Exchange three years later.
William Hill has a large European footprint, with a major presence in markets such as Italy and Spain.
Customers place bets on sports at Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill, shortly after the opening of the first day of legal betting on sports in New Jersey
In the UK, it operates more than 1,400 betting shops, where like rivals it has been grappling with tighter regulation of historically money-spinning fixed-odds betting terminals.
The William Hill name dates back to the 1930s, when its eponymous founder launched the business as a postal and telephone-based betting service.
It opened its first betting shops in 1966, five years after their presence on high streets became legal.
Tipico’s interest represents a logical fit with William Hill’s portfolio, given the former’s status as Germany’s largest sports betting group.
Headquartered in Malta, it also has operations in Austria, Colombia, Croatia and the US.
CVC declined to comment on Thursday.