Online gambling firm 888 wins battle for Bwin.party
July 22, 2015
Online casino and poker firm 888 won the battle for larger rival Bwin.party Digital Entertainment on Friday, clinching a cash and stock deal worth almost $1.4 billion.
888, which itself rejected a takeover by Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill in February, had been battling against an offer from GVC Holdings for Bwin, which put itself up for sale last year. "We believe the deal creates one of the world’s leading online gaming operators," 888's Executive Chairman Brian Mattingley told Reuters. "It's all about scale... When you've got critical mass you can ride storms and take advantage of opportunities as they come along," he added.
While lower than the 110p face value of GVC's rival offer, Bwin said it carried fewer risks, with better prospects and an experienced management team all factors.
The deal was welcomed by U.S. activist investor Jason Ader whose Spring Owl vehicle is Bwin's second biggest shareholder. "I believe not only are 888 the best buyer for this company but that its management team will realize significant long-term synergy value for our shareholders with the least amount of execution and regulatory risk," Ader said in a statement.
888, which offers casino, poker and bingo games, has enjoyed strong growth as gamblers move online via tablets and mobiles. In acquiring Bwin, the firm will significantly boost revenues from its fledgling sports betting business, and can apply its stronger technology platform and management to Bwin's business. A combined group will have revenue of over $1 billion and be a leading online gambling operator in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Bwin shareholders will own 48.9 percent of the new firm. The two companies said they would also considering spinning-off Bwin.party's 'Studio's technology business.