London-based William Hill has decided not to explore a merger with Canadian gaming and online gambling company Amaya. The UK bookmaker announced that it was pulling out of talks on Tuesday (18 October).
The move follows both the companies saying earlier this month that their proposed £4.6bn ($5.64bn) merger would create a "clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino games". However, with regards to the current move, William Hill said that the latest decision was taken after considering the views of its major shareholders.
In a statement, UK's largest retail bookmaker by number of shops said, "At the time of the [merger] announcement on 10 October 2016, various exploratory due diligence and other workstreams were underway but far from complete. After canvassing views from a number of William Hill's major shareholders, the Board has decided that it will not pursue discussions with Amaya. Accordingly, the Board has informed Amaya that it is withdrawing from discussions and wishes Amaya well for the future."
The move comes just days after hedge fund Parvus Asset Management, the largest shareholder in William Hill openly opposed the deal. It had then said that the Amaya deal "had limited strategic logic and would destroy shareholder value." It had even suggested the UK bookmaker to consider putting itself up for sale instead.
Ralph Topping, former CEO of William Hill's had also spoken against the merger. "When this deal was announced I was left scratching my head...Both [Amaya and William Hill] have a lot to sort out in their own business...I'm very anxious on the future of William Hill," he was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.
This comes at a time when the betting industry is witnessing consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. While William Hill's rivals – Betfair and Paddy Power – had merged earlier this year, two other UK betting firms, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are in final stages of finalising a merger deal. William Hill had recently rejected a takeover bid from a consortium of Rank Group and 888 Holdings.