The Stars Group makes aggressive Australian play with CrownBet

The Stars Group makes aggressive Australian play with CrownBet

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Posted by Luke Massey
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William Hill has sold its Australian business to CrownBet

A crazy week of negotiations has changed the landscape of the Australian online betting sector, which welcomes a new player in Toronto TSX-listed The Stars Group Inc.

Closing February, The Stars Group confirmed that it had become the majority shareholder in CrownBet Holdings, acquiring a majority 62% stake for AUS $117 million (€95 million) from casino operator Crown Resorts.

A fast-paced week then saw CrownBet revealed as a suitor for William Hill’s embattled Australian business division, bidding against FTSE100 betting group Paddy Power Betfair.

Entering 2017, William Hill had placed its entire Australian business division under strategic review, countering the market’s recent ban on credit betting and impending state-level wagering taxes.

Led by enterprise founder Matt Tripp, CrownBet took the opportunity to expand its market footprint through M&A, winning the William Hill Australia auction for a AUS $300 million (€185 million).

Active in the market since 2012, William Hill has invested circa AUS $700 million (€500 million) to develop its Australian proposition, primarily through the aggressive M&A of legacy online betting operators Sportingbet.com.au, Centrebet and TomWaterhouse.com.

The Stars Group has been quick to expand on its Australian investment. Following the confirmation of CrownBet’s William Hill acquisition, the group issued a corporate update, informing investors that it had increased its equity in CrownBet operations to 80%.

Aggressively pursuing its new Australian agenda, The Stars Group detailed that it would now pay a transaction of US $315 million (€250 million), enlarging its stake in CrownBet while paying for its acquisition of William Hill Australia.

The Stars Group will retain the services of Matt Tripp as leader of CrownBet, which seeks to become the outright leader in online betting for the Australian market.

Updating investors, The Stars Group Chief Executive Rafa Ashkenazi commented: “With complementary geographic profiles, we expect the combined business to leverage CrownBet’s operating and proprietary technology platform and be well positioned for growth and to navigate the ongoing regulatory and taxation changes in the Australian market.

“These acquisitions will further increase our exposure to the attractive regulated Australian sportsbook market and create a player of scale and clear rival to the top two operators there.”

Totally Gaming says: The M&A hungry group has stated its intent to grow within the restricted Australian online betting market. Industry stakeholders will keep a close eye on Matt Tripp’s actions and whether he can deliver on the Canadian firm’s market ambitions.

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