William Hill is amongst the oldest names in UK sports betting and one of the world’s leading gambling companies, providing comprehensive sports betting and gaming services across multiple channels.
In 2020 the company experienced an extraordinary corporate journey which saw its share price recover from a low of 37p in early March culminating in a 272p bid approach in September. During a year of significant challenge and transition, the CEO and CFO hired h2glenfern to assist in developing and delivering an equity story to articulate the significant opportunities they saw ahead.
On his appointment as CEO at the end of 2019, Ulrik Bengtsson’s goal was to build on the steps William Hill had already taken in the US and Europe and deliver a highly profitable international gambling business of scale. The company had built a dominant market share in the US’s newly regulated sports betting markets and in 2019 bought Mr Green, a European online gaming platform.
Despite this, shareholders viewed William Hill as a UK-focused cash generator with significant domestic regulatory risk and a reputation for over-promising and under-delivering, earned in part from their commitment to in house product and technology development. Given the new overseas growth opportunities, the company recognised that this perception needed to change as cashflow would be re-directed from dividend payment to supporting growth Capex. To boost investors’ confidence that the company could execute its strategy, Ulrik hired Matt Ashley as the new CFO in March 2020.
Having worked with them extensively whilst CFO of National Express, Matt contacted h2glenfern and asked for their help. With the shares trading at 80p, he recognised that the current share price did not accurately reflect the strength of the underlying equity story and the company’s global capabilities and ambition.
Ahead of their Q1 update, h2glenfern worked with the CEO, CFO, and the head of their US operations to qualify and articulate the opportunity. In June, amid the Covid-19 crisis, the company raised £224m via a placing alongside their Q1 results to bolster the balance sheet and ensure adequate working capital to execute their growth ambitions in the US. To support a successful fundraise, h2glenfern helped develop their investor presentation materials and facilitated the effective delivery of a virtual institutional roadshow. The roadshow’s focus was the scale of the US opportunity, which was poorly understood by investors and where the bulk of the proceeds were to be invested.
The fundraising was successful and the company decided to use the new materials to enhance the delivery of their H1 results. These included a recorded Q&A about the key messages with the CEO and CFO that was exceptionally well received.
In early September, William Hill announced its US partner Caesars Entertainment had tabled a bid at 272p, valuing the business at £2.9bn. h2glenfern helped the Chairman, CEO, and company advisers prepare the Board’s acceptance statement and articulate the compelling strategic rationale, to encourage shareholders to vote in favour of the proposal. This and the newly created operating story were then incorporated into the Q3 results statement in November alongside another recorded interview with the CEO.
h2glenfern is currently working with the company to prepare the 2020 final results statements and the strategic narrative for the Chairman and CEO’s contribution to the annual report. This is the last document that the company will produce as an independent entity and will act as the shop window for the sale of the non-US assets, which is scheduled for Q2 2021.