February 25th, 2016
Another round of mega-mergers in the iGaming world is on the horizon after reports surfaced recently that William Hill and NYX are planning a bid for software company, OpenBet.
Following on from last year's trend of mergers and acquisitions, William Hill and NYX are in the final stages of putting together a £300 million bid for the independently owned OpenBet, according to The Telegraph. The British newspaper reported earlier this month that OpenBet has been put up for sale by its private equity owner, Vitruvian Partners, who took control of the company after a £208 million management buyout.
Investment bank Morgan Stanley will be overseeing the auction proceedings, and it's predicted that the bidding will fall somewhere between £250 million and £300 million.
For the Las Vegas-based NYX, the move to acquire OpenBet marks a strategy to bolster its already burgeoning software offering. OpenBet and NYX are in the same line of business, and both currently provide software solutions to some of the biggest iGaming operators in the world. However, with a market capitalisation of £65 million, NYX can't afford to make a move for OpenBet on its own.
Fortunately, thanks to its working relationship with William Hill (NYX provides software services to William Hill's online platforms), NYX has a partner with a big enough bankroll to prop up the deal.
There's a chance that this support from William Hill may not be needed, as development company Playtech is also thought to be interested in acquiring OpenBet. Widely known as a dominant force in iGaming technology, Playtech currently provides services to virtually every online operator, while also running its own portfolio of sites and networks (the iPoker Network).
Playtech's impressive range of services has earned it a listing on the FTSE 250, which makes it a serious contender against William Hill and NYX in the bid to acquire OpenBet.
However, with a market capitalisation of more than £3 billion, it is looking highly likely that William Hill will be able to come up with the funds needed to acquire OpenBet with NYX. With many of its bookmaking rivals, including Paddy Power Sports, Betfair Exchange, Ladbrokes Sports and Coral Sports all completing mergers in recent months (Paddy Power/Betfair and Ladbrokes/Coral), William Hill could well be looking to strengthen its own services through similar deals.
The operator has, up until now, held off on discussing deals with any of its bookmaking counterparts, but the prospect of joining forces with NYX to purchase OpenBet has clearly been an attractive one. By owning some of the rights to a software provider, William Hill could get the upper hand on its rivals by rolling out a series of unique offerings in the coming months.
OpenBet currently has 200 operating partners, and should the takeover deal go ahead, William Hill and NYX would undoubtedly demand some sort of exclusivity for certain products, which could mean a better deal for players in the near future.