William Hill moves to buy out online partner

The bookmaker William Hill wants to buy out its partner Playtech from William Hill Online in a deal that could cost it upwards of £350m.

The decision comes after the online business grew operating profits by a phenomenal 42 per cent in the last three months, driving an overall rise of 26 per cent for the group.

Willliam Hill and the software group Playtech put their resources together in December 2008. Now is the first opportunity Hill has to buy Playtech's 29 per cent stake.

Analysts said it could cost anything from £230m to £500m, with most suggesting a narrower range of £300m to £400m. The stake will be valued by separate investment banks for each side between now and February. If no satisfactory valuation can be reached, Hill has a further option to buy out Playtech in two years.

Hill is also in the middle of a joint £530m bid for Sportingbet, whose Australian operations it wants.