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Bookies in merger talks

William Hill facing joint £3 billion takeover bid

William HillOnline betting firm 888 Holdings and casino operator Rank Group are expected to launch a joint bid for William Hill, Britain’s biggest bookmaker.

Hill is facing tough online competition and parted company last week with chief executive James Henderson.

Merging with 888 and Rank would create a £3 billion- plus gambling giant and represent the latest big shift in a sector which has undergone a series of mergers.

Paddy Power and Betfair joined forces and the tie-up between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral is awaiting clearance from the competition authorities.

888 and Rank said they were “evaluating a possible offer” but the two firms see “significant industrial logic in the combination”.

Hill’s online net revenues fell 11% in the 17 weeks to 26 April and its shares have dropped 21% since the start of the year, valuing the former FTSE 100 firm at £2.7 billion.

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