Top William Hill investor Parvus rejects any Amaya deal

Thu Oct 13, 2016 3:53pm EDT
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By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) - A leading investor in British betting company William Hill (WMH.L: Quote), Parvus Asset Management, said it would oppose any reverse takeover of Canadian firm Amaya (AYA.TO: Quote), given its "limited strategic logic".

Parvus said a deal would also "destroy shareholder value" in an open letter to the board on Thursday, and it wanted the firm to consider all alternative options for maximizing shareholder value, including a sale of the company.

The firms had announced talks on a tie-up on Oct. 7, just two months after William Hill rejected a revised takeover approach from online rival 888 (888.L: Quote) and casinos and bingo halls operator Rank Group (RNK.L: Quote).

William Hill said it was still assessing a tie-up.

"It shouldn't take more than five minutes of the board's time to realize this deal doesn't pass the smell test," Mads Eg Gensmann, co-founder of 4.3 billion euro Parvus told Reuters.

Gensmann said he had no preferred strategic option, but he wanted the board to evaluate each on its merits, adding that their judgment in pursuing Amaya had been "clearly lacking".

In response, a spokesman for William Hill said given the strategic fit, diversification and potential synergies of an Amaya deal, it had a responsibility to fully assess it.

"However it is premature for us to draw conclusions whilst this work is ongoing. The Board would not come forward with a transaction unless it was satisfied that it was in the interests of all shareholders."   Continued...

A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall