William Hill, Amaya Mull Massive "Merger of Equals"

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Is DNegs about to get a new boss?

Are UK bookmaker William Hill and PokerStars' parent company Amaya, Inc. on the verge of forming the world's largest online gaming company?

Market speculators seem to think so as both Will Hill and Amaya stocks jumped over the weekend as ongoing talks of a merger were confirmed.

The two companies released a joint statement on Friday calling the discussion a "potential merger of equals."

William Hill stock rose 6.5 percent to boost the company’s market value to around $3.3 billion. Amaya stock rose 8.2% after reports of interest from several gaming companies including Will Hill.

Amaya's current market value is estimated at about $2.6 billion. Combined, the companies' total UK market cap could exceed £5.7bn.

GVC, 888 Held Off

Talks of the new deal suggest previous attempts to takeover each company - Amaya by GVC Holdings and Will Hill by 888 and Rank Group PLC - have been held off for now.

Baazov rebuffed?

A rumored buy-out attempt from ousted former Amaya CEO David Baazov also hasn't materialized.

“Over recent months," the statement read, "the board of William Hill has been evaluating options to accelerate William Hill's strategy of increasing diversification by growing its digital and international businesses.

“Amaya has been undertaking a review of its strategic alternatives since February 2016. The potential merger would be consistent with the strategic objectives of both William Hill and Amaya and would create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino.

“These discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”

The deal would be structured as a "reverse takeover" with William Hill taking over Amaya. Amaya CEO Rafi Ashkenazi, who took over on a permanent basis after Baazov stepped down for good earlier this summer, would be the merged company's CEO.

William Hill’s Philip Bowcock, who became interim CEO earlier this year, would be the CFO.

The mutual benefits are primarily an estimated £100m in cost-savings to run the mega-company and the cross-selling potential for each business' clients.

More analysis from the Financial Times here.

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