David Baazov continues pursuit of former company Amaya

David Baazov continues pursuit of former company Amaya

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Amaya stakeholders offered CAD $3.5 billion deal

Former Amaya Inc CEO David Baazov has returned to the negotiation table offering Amaya stakeholders a CAD $3.5 billion deal for the firm’s corporate assets. Since August Amaya governance has been advised by a ‘special committee’ giving the company guidance on its best strategic options including a potential sale.

Offering a $24 per share representing a premium of 30.9 percent on Amaya’s Friday 11 November close price of CAD $18.34, Baazov remains intent on reacquiring his former enterprise. Four separate funds are reported to be supporting Baazov’s Amaya takeover, which could be considered the firm’s leading option as Baazov currently maintains 17.2 of company equity.

Following last month’s failed merger discussions with FTSE-listed UK betting operator William Hill, Baazov may well be leading the pack of Amaya acquisition suitors. The William Hill – Amaya merger had failed to meet the expectations of corporate investors who saw little value in deal stakeholders continuing discussions.

Baazov, who this September was charged with insider trading allegations by Quebec’s securities regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), appears intent on acquiring Amaya’s core asset of PokerStars.com.

The former CEO had first alerted the market of his interest in taking over Amaya assets this March, when his executive team proposed a management takeover at $21 per share. However, due to being halted by pending legal issues, Baazov was not allowed to make a formal offer for Amaya assets.

The CAD $3.5 billion offer will see Baazov create a new business entity holding Amaya assets. Furthermore, Baazov’s acquisition vehicle set aside a reported $200 million cash reserve for when the deal is approved.

Baazov’s hand was revealed on the back of a positive quarter where his replacement as CEO Rafi Ashkenazi set out the stall for Amaya going forward – and the need to diversify from the core poker product.

He told investors: “Our vision needs to be broader and bolder than our current brand focus in real poker. A diverse team people from across the company have been examining our vision and mission over the past few months. The result of this process will serve as the guide for our external brand going forward.”

Ashkenazi said that one of Amaya’s priorities is to be a leader in online casino and that the company would be working on product improvement for the sportsbook over market expansion with an aim of ‘getting to parity with our peers especially when it comes to mobile’.

Totally Gaming says: At the moment Amaya cannot break free from the David Baazov story, that’s if indeed it wants to. After all it was under the helm of its former CEO that the group became the world’s biggest poker operator after an audacious series of acquisition deals pulled off in a relatively short period of time. 

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