June 16, 2020 / 4:12 PM / 16 days ago

William Hill launches cash call to raise about £245 million

FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - British bookmaker William Hill (WMH.L) said on Tuesday it was looking to raise about 245 million pounds through an issue of nearly one-fifth of its share capital, as it looks to reopen its betting shops.

The company said it has reduced its monthly cash outflow, has unrestricted liquidity in excess of 500 million pounds and expects to generate positive cash flow from its operations in the second half of the year.

“During March and April customers continued to place bets on alternative products such as table tennis...that activity has remained high alongside the return of horseracing and football,” the company said.

Total net revenue growth dropped 50% in the six weeks to June 9, compared with a 57% plunge in the preceding seven weeks as online sports wagers improved significantly.

But the company expects the level of sports betting activity to likely remain uncertain for the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

Europe’s bookmakers were already under pressure before the coronavirus outbreak from rising taxes and a crackdown in Britain which included limits on the size of stakes on gaming machines in betting shops.

Bookmakers have, however, seen opportunities in the opening up of U.S. markets in the past year.

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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