March 6, 2018 / 8:11 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-William Hill exits Australia, to sell unit to CrownBet

(Adds details of deal, background)

March 6 (Reuters) - British bookmaker William Hill Plc said on Tuesday it agreed to sell its Australia business to a unit of CrownBet for an equity value of A$313.7 million ($243.6 million) as a ban on credit betting pressured its profit in that country.

The deal represents an enterprise value of A$300 million, the company said.

The Australian business, which operates licensed betting, over the telephone, internet and mobile phone platforms, has about 284,000 customers. It made up 7 percent of William Hill's total revenue and nearly 6 percent of adjusted operating profit in 2017.

The company said in January it was reviewing options for the Australia business after the unit's profits came under pressure following a ban on credit betting and the likely introduction of a point of consumption tax in some states.

However, the retreat from Australia could raise further questions about the future of William Hill, which has missed out on a round of consolidation in its home British market.

The company said in November it was in "very preliminary discussions" with CrownBet, which is partly owned by Canada's Stars Group Inc, about a possible combination with its Australian business.

Proceeds from the sale will be partly used to pay down debt, William Hill said. ($1 = 1.2880 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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