UK bookmaker William Hill has received takeover proposals from Apollo Global Management and casino group Caesars Entertainment just weeks after it announced plans for a series of store closures due to coronavirus.

Apollo, the US private equity group that is bidding to buy the supermarket chain Asda, has submitted two proposals since late August, William Hill said on Friday. The FTSE 250 company has also received a separate proposal from Caesars, the statement added, though there is no certainty that an offer will be made. 

The bookmaker has been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month it announced plans to close 119 shops permanently and merge its retail and online operations, though it said a “strong recovery” since sports fixtures resumed would allow it to repay £24.5m in furlough funds.

The company’s shares, which had tumbled in the first few months of the pandemic, surged on the news, jumping about 33 per cent to 300p. Bloomberg News first reported the talks with Apollo. 

Private equity firms, which have raised record-sized funds in recent years, have increasingly been looking at UK-listed companies since shares fell in March and April. 

William Hill’s announcement will start the clock running for a bid under UK takeover rules. The groups have until October 23 to announce firm plans or walk away, though extensions can be made.

Source: Financial Times

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