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Rank Group and 888 may merge and make bid for William Hill

James Henderson
William Hill boss James Henderson was fired after the company underperformed under his guidance.

A GAMBLING goliath could be created imminently with 888 Holdings and the Rank Group discussing a potential merger, which would see the pair make an audacious bid for British wagering giant William Hill.

888 Holdings is largely known for its eponymous poker brand, particularly in Australia where it is a major player, second only to Pokerstars. Rank Holdings is Britain’s largest casino and Bingo hall operator.

The joining of the two companies would create a 2 billion pound company, which would then launch a 3 billion pound bid for William Hill, which is in the midst of a crisis after firing its Chief Executive Officer James Henderson on Thursday for losing market share.

This potential merging of the three entities comes in the face of tighter regulation and bigger taxes, with many smaller mergers already having taken place as companies consolidate their position in the competitive global market.

William Hill had been a market leader in the online world, but has struggled in the face of cutting edge competition, with their apps and mobile presence copping plenty of criticism from gamblers across the globe.

Hills still has close to 2500 land-based bookmakers with a large focus its betting operations, but a failed attempt to purchase 888 last year has seen its fortunes plummet including a 31% drop of its share price.

888 is largely owned by Israeli brothers Avi and Aaron Shaken with the pair believed to have close to a 50% share in the company. Despite a failed attempt to buy Bwin.party last year, 888 has grown its share price by 29%.

The Rank Group is largely known as the owner of Grosvenor Casinos, with the merger with 888 expected to significantly boost their online presence, given they largely operate brick and mortar casinos and Bingo halls in the UK.

Other big movements in the UK betting market in recent times was a merger between Ladbrokes and Gala. Paddy Power and Betfair agreed to join forces in September of 2015.

The Ladbrokes-Gala merger could be finalised as soon as this week, according to UK newspaper the Sunday times.

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