Bwin wants quick progress after two bids

Bwin wants quick progress after two bids

Monday, May 18, 2015
888's Brian Mattingley has overseen the bid for Bwin

Bwin.party wants to conclude its potential sale as quickly as possible after receiving £1 billion-plus (€1.37bn/$1.57bn) bids from 888 and a joint proposal from GVC and PokerStars owner Amaya Gaming.

Speaking to TotallyGaming.com, the company said that advisers are in the process of running through the proposals from the two potential purchasers, as well as others.

888 is believed to have offered around £1bn for Bwin.party, and revealed this morning that shareholders representing approximately 59 per cent of its share capital have irrevocably committed to vote in favour of the proposed transaction.

GVC’s long-rumoured interest was confirmed on Friday, but the Financial Times today (Monday) said that the Sportingbet owner had linked up another reverse takeover specialist, Canadian firm Amaya, to offer around £1.09bn in cash and newly issued GVC shares. 

“The board is focused on reaching a conclusion as soon as possible," a Bwin.party source told TotallyGaming.com. “We have received a number of proposals from third parties and the board and its advisers are in the process of assessing those proposals to secure the best outcome for shareholders.

“As we have made clear in our previous statements however there can be no certainty as to whether or not this will result in a transaction being completed.”

Bwin.party stated last year that it would consider offers “with a view to creating additional value for Bwin.party shareholders”, and its stock price today was up by around 25 per cent on its value of a week ago following the bids.

Amaya, which had previously been a little-known supplier of betting equipment and systems based in suburban Montreal, pulled off one of the biggest takeovers in the history of the gambling industry when it raised $4.9bn to buy PokerStars and Full Tilt in June 2014.

GVC teamed up with William Hill to buy Sportingbet for £31m in 2013, and released what it described as “exceptional” figures for 2014 in March, which included a year-on-year rise of 204 per cent in operating profit to €42.9m.

At the time, chief executive Kenny Alexander told TotallyGaming.com that the company had soared in confidence since the Sportingbet deal and was on the lookout for further acquisitions.

Alexander said: “The success does give us confidence. It was a big deal to us, and a big gamble. Some thought we wouldn’t be successful, but we had belief and we have made it work thanks to a strong management team and workforce.”

Its statement on Friday read: “GVC notes the recent press speculation and confirms that it has submitted a proposal with a view to the group acquiring the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Bwin.party.

“If the proposed transaction were to complete, it would be treated as a reverse takeover due to the size of Bwin.party relative to the company and, in order for the proposed transaction to proceed, it would require, inter alia, the approval of GVC shareholders.”

Meanwhile, 888 – which rejected a takeover bid from William Hill in February – said that it feels a purchase of Bwin.party makes sense for both companies.

A statement read: “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.”

Brian Mattingley, 888’s new executive chairman, said last month the industry was set for a flurry of mergers. He added: “We will either be consolidated or we will be part of the consolidation."

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