Addleshaws, Ashurst and Nabarro off to the races on Sportingbet bids

Addleshaw Goddard, Ashurst and Nabarro are the advisers behind William Hill and GVC Holdings’ bids for online betting service Sportingbet.

Anthony Clare
Anthony Clare

High street bookmaker William Hill and Aim-listed European Gaming company GVC confirmed earlier this month that they were considering making a joint offer for Sportingbet, which had seen stocks jump around 17 per cent in the wake of market speculation.

Analysts predict that William Hill will be interested in Sportingbet’s Australian business – which accounts for 90 per cent of profits – while GVC is likely to have its eyes on European and emerging market assets. CVC previously attempted to buy William Hill in 1997.

Addleshaws is understood to be advising GVC. Ashurst is understood to be advising William Hill, with corporate partners Anthony Clare and Jonathan Earle acting.

Nabarro is understood to be advising long-time client Sportingbet, led by corporate partner Graham Stedman, who is also responsible for the firm’s relationship with Sportingbet.

Background to this deal:

Eight years ago, Sportingbet was an Ashurst client. The firm landed a role acting on its £169.1m acquisition of Paradise poker in 2004 shortly after replacing the company’s previous adviser, Linklaters (1 November 2004).

Ashurst also advised Sportingbet on its aborted bid for Empire Online in 2005, with the firm’s then head of corporate Adrian Clark leading on the deal (8 September 2005). Nabarro scooped the role advising Empire after previously advising the company on its Aim debut in June of that year.

After Sportingbet and Ashurst parted ways in 2006, Nabarro partner Stedman, along with partner Jonathan Cantor, made a successful pitch to become its corporate adviser (2 July 2007). Since then, Nabarro has advised Sportingbet on its £343m move from Aim to the main market (17 May 2010) and its acquisition of Australian betting company Centrebet in 2011 (6 June 2011).

One of Ashurst’s first encounters with William Hill was advising private equity company Cinven on its acquisition of the bookmaker for £825m in 1999 (3 January 2009).

Ashurst made the cut on William Hill’s slimmed-down internal legal panel in June 2008, alongside Addleshaws and Pinsent Masons (23 June 2008). One significant deal on which Ashurst has been instructed by William Hill since then was its planned £1.2bn rights issue and debt facility in 2009 (2 March 2009)