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Tabcorp Rumored to Be Talking with Apollo, Entain

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The rumor mill pertaining to Tabcorp’s plans to perhaps sell its media and sports wagering units continues spinning.  Speculation is emerging that the Australian gaming company is holding discussions with suitors Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) and Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY).

Tabcorp Entain
Tabcorp Park in Australia. The company is reportedly talking with Apollo and Entain about its media and betting operations. (Image: Tabcorp)

The private equity company and the Ladbrokes owner previously made offers for the aforementioned Tabcorp businesses and the Australian company’s board met last week to discuss plans for the enterprises. It was expected the operator would make an announcement regarding the results of a strategic review. But no such reveal happened, stoking rumors sales of those units is possible.

Tabcorp was expected to announce the outcome of its strategic review by Wednesday, according to sources, but that has now been delayed to Friday or early next week,” reports The Australian. “Bidders are understood to have been kept in the dark about Tabcorp’s intentions, but some believe that engagement with bidders suggests a sale is not off the table.”

Tabcorp started the strategic review of the media and sports wagering arms in March, and it’s being advised by Swiss investment bank UBS. In addition to possible sales, it’s believed the operator could consider spinning off those businesses or potentially merging them with another entity.

Tabcorp Faces Task in Evaluating Offers

Assuming it’s accurate that Tabcorp is, in fact, holding talks with Apollo and Entain, weighing the offers isn’t an easy task.

The private equity company is offering $3.1 billion for the media, sports betting, and gaming services businesses. But the last one of that group isn’t part of Tabcorp’s strategic review. Take it out of the equation, and Apollo’s $2.7 billion bid for the media and wagering arms mirrors that of Entain’s, though there’s rumors the Coral owner could up its pitch. Both suitors are offering cash.

Recently, several industry analysts noted that, all else being equal, Tabcorp accepting the Entain bid would be more practical. That’s because the British company already operates in Australia, meaning it’d more easily clear regulatory hurdles than Apollo.

Entain Australia also urged Tabcorp to accept its bid on the basis that the former is committed to the businesses, whereas Apollo could look to sell the units again in a few years after it turns a profit. By bringing Tabcorp’s betting assets into the fold, Entain would control approximately 48 percent of Australia’s horse racing and sports betting market.

Blow to BetMakers

If it’s true that Tabcorp is engaged in discussions with Apollo and Entain, that could imply the operator is ignoring a recently made $3.1 billion offer from Australian betting technology company BetMakers. That firm, advised by local bookmaking legend Matthew Tripp, is offering $3.1 billion for Tabcorp’s media and sports betting arms.

While that tops the bids made by Apollo and Entain, BetMakers is offering a mix of cash and equity, and it’s widely believed Tabcorp investors would prefer all cash.

The talks with the private equity firm and Entain may also imply that media giant Fox Corp. has opted against making a bid.

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