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William Hill praises US performance as MRG deal nears completion


William Hill has detailed US and online strength in its latest trading update and says approximately 92% of MRG shareholders have accepted its £245m ($315m) acquisition offer.   

Full-year adjusted profit for 2018 from continuing operations is expected to be £234m, 15% down on 2017.  

However, this figure meets the company’s projections, as operating profit was expected to be between £225m and £245m.

Underlying operating profit increased 4% year-on-year, excluding US expansion costs and the impact of increased due diligence to online customers.

A statement in the trading update said: "The US business broadly broke even in 2018 after allowing for significant expansion costs. As anticipated, retail profits reduced year-on-year, challenged by wider high street conditions."

CEO Philip Bowcock said: "In 2019, we will remodel our retail offer while building a digitally-led international business, underpinned by a sustainable approach as part of our Nobody Harmed ambition."

Bowcock also looked ahead while detailing the position of the MRG acquisition deal.

He said: "With rapid expansion underway in the US, building on profitable foundations, and the acquisition of Mr Green nearing completion, we look forward to making further progress this year."

William Hill has extended the acceptance period of its MRG offer to 31 January, allowing remaining shareholders time to account for its trading update.