William Hill and Amaya confirmed they were in talks over an all-share merger of equals in a joint statement on October 8, saying any deal would be structured as a reverse takeover. They gave no value for the deal, but London-listed William Hill has a market capitalisation of about £2.5 billion, while Toronto-listed Amaya’s market cap is roughly C$ 3.4 billion (£2 billion).
If the deal were valued at £4.5 billion on the basis of the companies’ market caps, it would be Macquarie Capital’s largest deal acting for a UK acquirer or target, according to analysis of data from Dealogic.
The advisory and capital markets business of Macquarie is acting alongside Citigroup, which is also William Hill’s joint broker, as financial advisers
Macquarie’s involvement comes a year after it hired former Jefferies banker Ben Bailey to run its European entertainment team. Bailey, Macquarie’s head of telecoms, media, entertainment and technology for Europe, is working on the deal alongside his Los Angeles-based managing director colleague Sung Chun, according to the joint statement.
Macquarie is no stranger to William Hill’s merger suitor, having been among the advisers to Amaya on its transformative acquisition of Rational Group, operator of the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, in 2014.
For Citi, UK investment banking head Jan Skarbek and corporate broking head Andrew Seaton are advising William Hill, according to the statement.
William Hill’s other joint broker, Barclays, also advised Amaya on the Rational Group deal, and is again on the Canadian group’s side of the table in the negotiations on the latest deal. The bank’s team handling discussions includes its co-head of TMT for Emea, Daniel Ross, Canadian M&A chief Trond Lossius and Ragavan Bala, New York-based head of real estate M&A.
Earlier in the year, William Hill called on both Citi and Barclays after it received the attention of gaming companies 888 Holdings and The Rank Group, which were being advised on a possible offer by Morgan Stanley. 888 and Rank said in late August that they would not make an offer for William Hill.