Reports: Amaya, 888 Vying for bwin.party Takeover for $1.7 Billion

Dustin Gouker : May 18th, 2015

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Both Amaya and 888 are reportedly looking to purchase the online gaming and poker company bwin.party, possibly setting up a bidding war.

Bwin.party has been on the block for a potential sale for several months now, but talk of a sale has heated up quickly in recent days. Shares of publicly traded bwin.party have been increasing with rumors of a possible sale — up as much as 10 percent at one point

On Monday, 888 released a statement confirming its interest. Such a deal would be a reverse takeover, as 888 is valued at less than bwin.party. Reports of 888’s interest started coming out last week. Here is part of the statement:

The Board of 888 (the “Board”) has noted the recent press speculation concerning a possible offer for bwin.party by 888 and RNS announcement by bwin.party. The Board believes that there is significant industrial logic in a combination of 888 and bwin.party, benefiting both companies and all shareholders and accordingly, has submitted a proposal regarding the acquisition of the entire issued and to be issued share capital of bwin.party for consideration comprising cash and 888 shares.

Due to the size of the proposed transaction, it would require, inter alia, the approval of 888 shareholders. 888 shareholders representing approximately 59% of 888’s share capital have
irrevocably committed, subject to customary conditions, to vote in favour of the proposed transaction. There can be no certainty that the submission of this proposal will lead to the Company being selected as the proposed acquirer of bwin.party or, in turn, completing a transaction. A further update will be provided in due course.

The amount of 888’s bid has not been reported.

Last week, it was reported that GVC holdings was interested in a bwin.party offer. Now, GVC has reportedly joined with PokerStars parent company Amaya Gaming for a bid, as reported by multiple media outlets. Reuters reports a deal on the table for $1.7 billion.

Amaya’s interest is apparently the poker of bwin.party’s operation, according to a story at the Financial Times website:

Bwin’s poker business would immediately be sold to Amaya, the person said, “for an agreed price”, with the remainder of the company run by GVC’s management through a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by Amaya and GVC, who will control a majority.

A story by the Telegraph confirms that notion, but also expands Amaya’s desires beyond the poker platform:

Under plans being drawn up by the two companies, a special vehicle that would be majority-owned by GVC would buy the FTSE 250 business outright and Amaya would have the option to subsequently purchase the poker operations.

GVC would then place its own management in the vehicle, who would be tasked with restructuring the remaining bwin.party assets over a period of about two years, after which the Canadian gambling giant may then buy the sports-book.

Any deal involving any of these three companies could have repercussions for regulated U.S. markets. Currently both 888 and bwin.party operate online casinos and poker rooms in New Jersey, and PokerStars is attempting to finalize a license to operate in the state by the third quarter of this year. A consolidation of the 888 and bwin.party platforms could create an online poker platform that would be better situated to compete with PokerStars in New Jersey. An acquisition of bwin.party by PokerStars might give it a dominant foothold in the market.

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