Hill pays £20m for Australian betting group

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BETTING giant William Hill has agreed to buy Australian online betting firm Tom Waterhouse for at least A$34m (£20m).

The FTSE 100 group, which employs more than 3,000 people in Yorkshire, including more than 1,300 people in Leeds, has expanded aggressively through acquisitions in recent months, spending almost £900m to take full control of its online operations and buy rival gambling company Sportingbet, giving it access to Australia. William Hill, the world’s largest betting agency by market value, has agreed to pay A$34m (£20m) up front and assume £3.5m (A$6m) in debt for tomwaterhouse.com, in a country that has the world’s biggest gambling habit per capita.

It will pay up to A$70m (£40m) more on a sliding scale based on tomwaterhouse.com achieving earnings growth between A$10m (£6m) and A$30m (£17m) in 2015.

Tomwaterhouse.com was established in 2010 and is one of Australia’s fastest growing online racing and sports betting businesses. It is a privately held company owned by managing director Tom Waterhouse and others. It has around 80 employees based in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.

Ralph Topping, chief executive of William Hill, said: “We are pleased to have secured this acquisition. International expansion is a key part of our growth strategy and making Australia our second home is a priority. The Sportingbet acquisition gave us a strong and proven platform with an experienced management team. Acquiring tomwaterhouse.com gives us a rapidly growing business that appeals to a complementary customer base.

“We are bringing together some of the best talent in the bookmaking industry into one formidable team. I’m impressed by Tom Waterhouse and his team, who are passionate and entrepreneurial.

“They’ve built a good business in a short period of time and have achieved strong growth momentum.”

William Hill, which generates revenues of more than £1.2bn per year, said that tomwaterhouse.com is not currently profitable but the group expects to achieve “substantial synergies”. On completion of the acquisition, tomwaterhouse.com will become part of William Hill Australia.

Mr Waterhouse will remain as managing director of the tomwaterhouse brand and joins William Hill’s Australian management team.