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Bwin.party Details GVC / Amaya Acquisition Offer

The long-pending sale and eventual breakup of Gibraltar-based bwin.party seemingly looms in the near future after bwin.party officials confirmed details of an active acquisition bid by GVG Holdings, PLC, with the partial backing of Amaya Gaming, earlier today.

bwin-party-logoBoth bwin.party and GVC issued brief, complimentary press notes about the probable sale.  The twin pressers confirmed industry speculation that the GVC / Amaya bid — valued at 110p, or about £900m (about US $1.4 billion) — was deemed generally acceptable to bwin.party’s executive shareholders.  The purchase price represents roughly a 10% premium over bwin.party’s current share price, which has bounced around the £1 mark in recent days.

Bwin.party and GVC continue to hammer out financial details in order to assure regulatory approval from various governing bodies.  The likely winning bid from GVC, with Amaya as a significant secondary backer, appears to have been selected over an earlier and lesser bid for the company from rival 888 Holdings.  The 888 bid was valued at about £700m back in May, when its existence became public.  888 was widely rumored to have sweetened its competing bid for bwin.party after the larger GVC / Amaya bid also became public knowledge, but today’s news indicates that the GVC bid remains the current winner.

Here’s what the companies themselves had to say, which of course include the standard market disclaimers that the pending deal could still fall apart..  First, from GVC:

GVC Holdings PLC
(“GVC” or the “Group”)

Offer discussions with bwin.party digital entertainment plc (“bwin.party”)

GVC notes today’s announcement made by bwin.party and confirms that it has made a proposal to acquire all of the outstanding and to be issued share capital of bwin.party at a price of 110 pence per bwin.party share, comprised of a combination of new GVC shares and cash. GVC looks forward to working with bwin.party and its advisers with a view to securing acceptance of its proposal and, in turn, making an offer to bwin.party shareholders.

There can be no certainty that an offer for bwin.party will be made. GVC will provide a further update for shareholders as and when appropriate.

Kenneth Alexander, Chief Executive of GVC Holdings plc, said: “Any offer made by GVC for bwin.party would include part of the consideration in new GVC shares. Based on our experience with the successful Sportingbet acquisition and restructuring, we believe that the potential combination of GVC and bwin.party would result in substantial financial and operating synergies and represent an excellent opportunity for both GVC and bwin.party shareholders.”

And now, from bwin.party:

bwin.party digital entertainment plc
(‘bwin.party’)

Announcement by GVC

The Board of bwin.party confirms that it has received a proposal from GVC Holdings plc (‘GVC’) to acquire all of the outstanding and to be issued share capital of bwin.party at a price of 110 pence per bwin.party share, comprised of a combination of new GVC shares and cash.

The Board has considered the GVC proposal, the potential benefits of which it believes can accrue to bwin.party shareholders from a combination of the two companies and the commitment shown to resolving a number of transaction-related issues, and has determined to work with GVC so that they can finalise their offer over the coming days.

There can be no guarantee that a formal announcement of a transaction will be made by GVC or any other party, and the Board will make further announcements in due course.

This announcement is being made with the consent of GVC.

GVC, as referred to in the above, is today headquartered in the Isle of Man and has been a software provider in the sports-betting business for about a decade.  GVC bills itself as a “multinational sports betting and gaming group” and offers bot business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) services.  From consumers’ viewpoint, GVC Holdings might be most widely known as the current owner and operator of SportingBet, a brand which the company acquired from William Hill in 2013.

Amaya, of course, is the Canadian gaming company that now owns PokerStars and Full Tilt Gaming, among other properties.  Under the chairmanship of David Baazov, Amaya has been one of the online gambling industry’s most active corporate players.

Assuming the GVC / Amaya deal is finalized in the near future and approved by each company’s shareholders, then the parceling out of bwin.party’s various business units will begin.  Odds-on speculation in gaming industry circles suggests that bwin.party will be sliced roughly right down the middle, with GVC taking over the bWin and PartyBets, the Party-branded sports betting group.

Amaya will likely get bwin.party’s poker network, which includes the larger PartyPoker and smaller poker.bwin skins.  Amaya will also likely end up with PartyGaming and casino.bwin.com, bwin.party’s primary entries in the online casino segment.

The deal will also put Amaya in an increased position of strength regarding the fledgling market, particularly in New Jersey, where the company still struggles to get its PokerStars brand officially approved.  However, assuming the acquisition goes through, Amaya would inherit several active software partnership deals with the Borgata, one of New Jersey’s two most prominent online and live casino properties.

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