HG Vora Capital, a New York activist hedge fund led by former Goldman Sachs’ VP Parag Vora, has acquired a 5.1% stake in William Hill, with the transaction reportedly valued at £115 million ($147.8 million).
The acquisition has reignited rumours over the FTSE250 betting group’s future options. Speculation initially began to grow earlier this month when the UK-based operator was forced to quell rumours that it was preparing to spin-off its William Hill US subsidiary to Caesars Entertainment, who own 20% of the wagering division as part of their strategic joint-venture partnership.
HG Vora Capital’s investment into William Hill comes as the operator continues to grow its footprint across the regulated wagering markets.
The hedge fund has already made its first foray into the betting market, having previously held a 5% shareholding in Caesars Entertainment, prior to the firm’s $17 billion acquisition by Eldorado Resorts in July 2020.
Markets have responded positively to William Hill’s US drive, which last week saw the firm’s share price close at a year-high of 220.00 GBX. Caution has been exercised with regards to the operator’s potential sale to a larger US casino operator, however, as COVID-19 impacts have forced all gambling groups to refinance their operations to secure their land-based portfolios.
Publishing its Q2 2020 results last month, William Hill adopted a bullish stance, acknowledging inevitable losses arising from the ongoing COVID pandemic. However, the group asserted its confidence that it will emerge much stronger, particularly in the fast-developing US sports betting space.
The firm cited a stable performance in the North American market and said it was looking forward to the restart of major sports, describing it as the ‘last piece in the puzzle’.