WillHill considers issuing bonds to raise cash

ntention is apparently to reduce GBP 850 million debt burden

THe UK-based gambling giant William Hill plc is considering the issue of bonds to raise as much as GBP 200 million in cash from investors, the Financial Times reported over the weekend, pointing out that as recently as February 2009 the company had raised GBP 350 million in a rights issue (see previous InfoPowa report).

The intention is apparently to use the new money to reduce the company's GBP 850 million debt burden, insiders told the FT.

Sources said that the company was in the preliminary stages of negotiations with British banks, and that the final amount of the bond had not yet been decided, but could be as high as GBP 200 million. It is understood that Citigroup has been appointed to review options.

Last week rival gambling group Ladbrokes plc launched a GBP 286 million rights issue (see previous InfoPowa report) in order to attack its GBP 960 million debt pile.

The FT notes that Brit bookies have been hit by heavy losses on football this season, where there have been fewer drawn matches, giving punters better chances to back a winner.

William Hill and Ladbrokes both plan to cut costs by moving their online sports betting operations to Gibraltar, where a more benign tax regime will enable them to better compete with offshore rivals.

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