The UK's leading chain of sports betting shops
William Hill was the second largest chain of sports betting shops in the UK, with approximately 1,500 licensed betting outlets and a leading telephone betting business.
The changing gambling environment in the UK required an owner which could move the business in a new strategic direction. The introduction of the National Lottery in the UK represented a substantial long-term opportunity. It legitimised gambling and generated pressure to relax certain of the severe restrictions applied on the gambling sector (for example, the restrictions on slot machines in betting shops and the obligation to black-out betting shop windows).
Under Terra Firma’s ownership, revenue generation was increased through widening the range of products available in betting shops such as slot machines and betting products based on random number draws (numbers betting).
The development of William Hill’s internet betting business and the establishment of international telephone betting were also critical in improving the growth path and increasing the sale value of the business. The predictability of the business’s cash flows enabled a refinancing shortly after acquisition, lowering the cost of capital.
The William Hill investment has been fully realised. William Hill was sold to a private equity consortium in 1999.