Amaya refinancement deal cuts out David Baazov. The Raising for Effective Giving meta-charity raised $1.4 million in 2016. Simon “C Darwin2” Mattsson closing in on top spot online. The WSOPC Season XIII Global Casino Championships are booked.
Buzz Off, Baazov
Former Amaya CEO David Baazov’s attempts to reinstate himself via a private takeover are likely at an end for good. PokerStars owner Rational Group went public in 2014 via reverse takeover by Amaya, a much smaller but publicly-traded corporation based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Baazov and others involved with Amaya soon found themselves embroiled in an investigation by Quebec’s financial regulatory authority, but this didn’t stop Baazov from making two attempts to buy up Amaya stock and take the company private again. The first of these attempts was in 2015, while Baazov was still CEO; the second came after charges had been pressed against him and he was forced to step down and leave Rafi Ashkenazi, the CEO of Rational Group, in charge of Amaya.
There are signs that Amaya has been struggling since the takeover. Stock prices are down significantly since the initial surge, and a couple of merger attempts last year both fell through, first with GVC and 888, then with William Hill. Now, the company has successfully renegotiated its financing terms with one or more of the major lenders involved in the 2014 reverse takeover, in order to free up operating capital and save on interest. Part of the deal, however, required the addition of a “poison pill” clause, triggering an immediate default on the loan in the event of “a certain current shareholder” (understood to be Baazov) taking over the company.
Short of Baazov finding investors to not only finance the required stock purchases but also buy up the outstanding debt to these existing creditors, then, it may be that online poker has seen the last of Baazov. Doubly so if the charges he faces turn out to stick and he ends up with a time-out behind bars as well.
Just as I prepare to publish this, Haley Hintze at FlushDraw has posted her take on the story, which contains additional observations and speculations between the above-linked CalvinAyre article.
– Raising for Effective Giving (REG), the poker-oriented effective altruism charity, has announced that it raised $1.4 million in 2016. About $1.2 million of this was redistributed based on donors’ wishes, including $920k to Against Malaria Foundation, $225k to Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, and $122k to Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). The remaining $200k was left to REG’s discretion; roughly two-thirds of this went to MIRI, and the remainder to a variety of animal rights and veganism initiatives.
– The online poker world has had a respite from Swedish dominance of the overall leaderboards since Fabrizio “SixthSenSe19” Gonzalez of Uruguay put together a hot streak during last year’s WCOOP. His reign is likely to end very soon, as the perennial Swedes Niklas “lena900” Astedt and Simon “C Darwin2” Mattsson are now very close and have, between them, won four of the past five monthly leaderboards.
– The WSOP Circuit has announced the dates and location for its grand finale, the Global Casino Championship. The $10,000 invitational event will run from August 8-10 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina.