GVC ready for more deals after 'exceptional' 2014

GVC ready for more deals after 'exceptional' 2014

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Totally Gaming

GVC Holdings chief executive Kenneth Alexander has told TotallyGaming.com that he is hoping for “another Sportingbet” as the company looks to strengthen through an acquisition strategy in 2015.

GVC, which bought Sportingbet in March 2013, released what it called “exceptional” figures for 2014 earlier this week, but is refusing to rest on its laurels despite multi-digit growth in a series of metrics, including a year-on-year rise of 204 per cent in operating profit to €42.9m ($47m).

In the two years since the acquisition of Sportingbet, the group has declared €63.5m in dividends and its market capitalisation has risen 87 per cent to close to €290m.

While Alexander would not be drawn on rumoured interest in Bwin or the seemingly available 888, he made it clear that the company is now actively seeking further major deals.

Alexander, who has been GVC’s chief executive since joining from Sportingbet in 2007, told TotallyGaming.com: “We are always talking to people, but I can’t say anything in particular at this present time.

“We are interested in anything that will continue to give a great return to our shareholders. We are exploring options across all geographical markets, whether regulated or unregulated. Obviously regulated markets come at a premium.”

GVC saw profit before tax up 217 per cent year-on-year to €41.3m in 2014 while all sports betting was up 25 per cent at €1.5bn and sports gross margin up 9.8 per cent.

GVC paid £31m to acquire Sportingbet's operations in 24 countries – not including Spain and Australia – two years ago and, while there were job losses as it absorbed the betting operator, GVC says its focus is “not just a case of slash and burn” but also creating good products.

Alexander also added that the company would enter any deal with great confidence from the success it has achieved with its acquisitions of recent years, including South American firm Betboo, whose revenues have tripled since 2009, and the 15-per-cent stake it bought in Scandinavia-facing Betit last year.

He added: “In terms of Sportingbet, we took a lot of cost out of the business through a major restructure, but we were able to grow top-level revenues by effective marketing and an improved product.

“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.”

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