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Gibson Dunn and Slaughters act for William Hill in latest gamble for gaming consolidation

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Slaughter and May and Ashurst have all won roles advising William Hill and Canadian online gaming company Amaya through merger talks in a deal worth about £4.5bn.

UK-based William Hill confirmed on Saturday (October 8) it was in discussions with Amaya regarding a ‘potential all share merger of equals’. Both companies have spent 2016 reviewing options for growth, with William Hill rejecting a £3.6bn takeover bid from Rank Group and 888 Holdings in August.

William Hill turned to Gibson Dunn with London partner Jonathan Earle leading the firm’s team. The UK bookmaker sought advice on financing aspects of the deal from Slaughter and May with a team including London corporate partner Sally Wokes.

Ashurst is advising Toronto-based Amaya on UK aspects of the deal with corporate partner Karen Davies at the helm. Amaya looked to Blake, Cassels & Graydon M&A partner Jeffrey Lloyd and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt partner Doug Bryce for advice on Canadian aspects.

William Hill turned to Slaughter and May earlier this year to guide it through the proposed takeover bid by Rank Group and 888 Holdings. Allen & Overy corporate partners Ed Barnett and Annabelle Croker advised 888 Holdings and Rank Group was advised by Norton Rose Fulbright EMEA corporate head partners Raj Karia and partner Chris Randall.

Gambling has been a lucrative sector for law firms in recent years after a spate of mergers and acquisitions. Last August Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Arthur Cox lined up on the merger between Paddy Power and Betfair for a £5bn deal. Freshfields partners Edward Braham and Oliver Lazenby led on the Betfair side, while Paddy Power turned to longstanding adviser Arthur Cox and corporate partner Maura McLaughin, as well as A&O’s Antonio Bavasso for antitrust advice.

In July 2015, Slaughters acted on Ladbrokes £2.3bn tie-up with bookmakers Gala Coral, advised by Ashurst. Slaughters corporate chief Andy Ryde led on the deal, alongside M&A partner Mark Zerdin and finance partner Ian Johnson.