William Hill and Canadian poker firm Amaya have called time on talks over a potential £4.6 billion merger, following feedback from shareholders.
Earlier this month the gambling giants said discussions were under way for a “merger of equals” that would have created one of the world’s biggest online gambling firms.
But today William Hill said: “Various exploratory due diligence and other workstreams were under way 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.”
The deal was opposed by Parvus Asset Management, William Hill’s largest shareholder.
Dave Gadhia, chairman of Amaya, said: “Together with our financial advisers, we evaluated a wide range of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value and have concluded that remaining an independent company is in the best interest of Amaya’s shareholders at this time. The board has full faith in Amaya’s management to execute on its strategy and objectives.”
Amaya, which owns the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands, said its former chief executive, David Baazov, remains interested in buying the company, but a special committee of independent board directors has not received an offer from him “that it or its advisers believes is capable of resulting in a completed transaction”.
It added: “Accordingly, while the board will consider any bona fide offer that Mr Baazov or any other party may make, Amaya’s review of strategic alternatives has concluded.”
The aborted deal with William Hill comes months after Mecca Bingo operator Rank Group pulled out of a joint bid with 888 for the bookmaker.
The gambling sector has seen growing consolidation over the past year, with Paddy Power and Betfair joining hands and Coral and Ladbrokes inking a £2bn merger.