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Profits tumble at William Hill as Covid weighs heavily

Thu 04 March 2021 07:00 | A A A

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(Sharecast News) - William Hill reported a slump in profits on Thursday, after the Covid-19 pandemic shut its casinos and high street shops and disrupted the sporting calendar.

The betting group, which is being acquired by Caesars Entertainment in a £2.9bn deal, saw adjusted net revenues from continuing operations in the year to 31 December fall 16% to £1.32bn. Stripping out exceptional items, pre-tax profits slid 91% to £9.1m. Earnings per share were off 79% at 2.3p.

William Hill said it had been a "challenging year", with the pandemic causing "disruption of live sporting events, closures and restrictions to retail and casinos, partially offset by growth in online gaming".

Online saw revenues improve 9% over the year. In August, William Hill - which has around 1,400 high street shops in the UK - said it would not reopen 119 shops following the lifting of lockdown restrictions, as it did not expect customers to return at pre-pandemic levels.

Looking ahead, the company said conditions had improved as the year came to an end, and that momentum had continued into the current quarter.

Ulrik Bengtsson, chief executive, said: "We began the year well and finished the year even stronger, highlighting the traction generated by our strategic focus on customer, team, execution.

"In 2020 we put our strategic plans firmly into action, diversifying our geographical footprint, expanding our team's capabilities and rebuilding our technology.

"The performance in the second half is clear testimony that our strategy is bearing fruit."

William Hill accepted in September a 272p per share cash offer from US gaming giant Caesars, the owner of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The firm noted: "Inevitably 2021 will see significant changes within the group."

Completion is expected in the second quarter, but could happen as early as this month should approvals from the relevant US gaming authorities be received in time.

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