888 keeps door open for mergers after H1 profit growth

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888 Holdings has praised the “outstanding momentum” of its online sportsbook and casino operations as pre-tax profits rose by 39 percent in the first half of the year, while CEO Itai Frieberger has insisted the firm is still “open for business” after its failed acquisition bid.


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he CEO of 888 Holdings has brushed off a disappointing summer that saw its joint merger attempt with Rank and William Hill fall through, stating that the company is still very much “open for business” after a strong set of first half results.

Speaking to the Financial Times after the release of 888’s H1 results, Itai Frieberger denied that the company had been left in limbo at a time when many of its industry competitors were successfully consolidating.

“In our industry, we are by far the leaders in terms of our technology,” he said. “These are assets that any other operators will kill for. There will be a situation where the opportunity will present itself. And as you saw from the William Hill approach, where we see an opportunity, we [try to] grab it.”

But Freiberger responded with little enthusiasm to suggestions that 888 would continue to push for a deal with Rank – the firm’s consortium partner – without the participation of William Hill.

“The plan was to have a three-way merger with Rank and William Hill,” he explained. “Merging independently with Rank is something which is not part of our plan.”

While question marks still hover over 888’s potential to find an appropriate suitor, stocks in the company rallied after the announcement of some impressive results on Wednesday morning.

In the first six months of the year, the firm saw its revenues swell by 19 percent to $262m (€235.45m) as online sportsbook and casino operations out-performed expectations. Revenues from 888Casino contributed $137.4m (€123.5m) to the total, while 888Sport saw revenues grow by 63 percent to $25m (€22.47m).

This translated into a 39 percent upswing in profit against the same period last year, with pre-tax profits coming in at $27.8m (€24.98m).

“In line with our strategic focus we have made further excellent progress developing 888 in regulated markets and have grown regulated revenue by 29 percent against the prior year, reflecting strong performances in the UK, Spain and Italy as well as 888’s recent successful launch in Denmark,” Frieberger said in a statement.

“888’s continued success is built on our first class technology and core expertise in CRM, marketing and analytics.

“These strengths, along with the fantastic efforts of our highly skilled and dynamic team, mean that the business is in excellent shape to deliver long term sustainable growth.”

In the early part of Q3, 888 has seen average daily revenues 22 percent higher than last year on a like-for-like basis, the CEO revealed.

“With this strong momentum the Board remains confident of delivering against expectations for the full year,” he added.


This article was originally published on www.betting-business.co