All bets off over William Hill merger with Amaya after shareholder opposition

A merger to which would have created one of the world's biggest online gambling firms is now off

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" which would create one of the world's biggest online gambling firms.

But on Tuesday 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.

Amaya owns the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands and the aborted deal comes months after Mecca Bingo operator Rank Group pulled out of a joint bid with 888 for William Hill.

The gambling sector has seen growing consolidation over the past year, with Paddy Power and Betfair joining hands and Coral and Ladbrokes inking a £2 billion merger.

John Colley, professor of practice at Warwick Business School, said: "It is difficult to see how a merger between UK betting shops and North American online poker could have created benefits. The proposed £100 million savings looked aspirational at best.

"Based on revenue-related benefits from cross-selling, shareholders were dubious of the reality of these benefits. Would two weak players have made a strong player? Usually they make a bigger weak player."

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