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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

William Hill sell Australian operation to CrownBet in £168m deal

William Hill have sold their business in Australia
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William Hill are to sell their Australian arm to CrownBet for Aus$300 million (£168m), it was revealed on Tuesday morning.

The bookmaker's Australian business had been made the subject of a strategic review after struggling in the face of increased taxation and a ban on credit betting.

At last month's 2017 results announcement William Hill were pushed into the red after deciding to write down the value of the Australian business by £238m. They had paid £459m for Sportingbet's operation there in 2013.  

William Hill chief executive Philip Bowcock said: "We are pleased to announce the sale of William Hill Australia to CrownBet. The disposal follows a strategic review of the business, launched in January after its profitability came under increased pressure due to the recent credit betting ban and the likely introduction of a point of consumption tax.

"The disposal will allow William Hill to focus on continuing to grow our UK online and US businesses, particularly as we prepare for the decision on the PASPA appeal [which could lift restrictions on sports betting in the US] due in 2018."

William Hill's share price closed yesterday 8.6p higher at 324.6p.

Analysts at Goodbody said: "While the proceeds represent a significant discount to its initial investment in the market back in 2013, when taking account of the regulatory and taxation headwinds, an exit from the market given its subscale nature is the only real move for the group."

Canadian gaming company The Stars Group, which has been linked to a merger with William Hill, bought a 62 per cent stake in CrownBet last week which was increased to 80 per cent on Tuesday.

Their chief executive Rafi Ashkenazi said: "These acquisitions will further increase our exposure to the attractive regulated Australian sportsbook market and create a player of scale and clear rival to the top two operators there."

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The disposal will allow William Hill to focus on continuing to grow our UK online and US businesses
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