888 Holdings, an online casino and poker operator, has closed in on a move to acquire Bwin.party, the Gibraltar-based Internet gaming group in a deal estimated at nearly $1.4 billion (£900 million), according to a London Stock Exchange filing.
The deal itself will see Bwin.party shadeholders receiving 39.45 pence and 0.404 new 888 shares. As a result of the accord and closing price, the offer stipulates a value of approximately 104.09 pence per Bwin.party share, with an overall value of roughly £898.3 million.
The latest announcement represents a victory for 888, which had been competing against GVC to acquire Bwin.party. Back in May, 888 heralded the acquisition bid of Bwin.party as a significant industrial logic for the two groups to assimilate. The move makes sense on a number of levels, notwithstanding the symbiotic nature afforded by the technology that powers Bwin’s online casino games.
At the time, Kenny Alexander, GVC’s Chief Executive noted, “As far as I am concerned, the big points have been agreed . . . I would be staggered if we cannot get it done.” Consequently, the recent victory by 888 marks a stunning reversal of fortunes and the end of a several month rivalry to acquire the gaming group.
888’s offer is also slated to include a Mix and Match Facility, such that Bwin.party shareholders will be eligible to appropriate the proportions of cash and newly afforded 888 shares they will receive, subject to offsetting elections made by respective Bwin.party Shareholders.
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The acquisition may also lead to a difference in management at Bwin.party – indeed, a proposal has been made that Liz Catchpole, Bwin.party’s independent non-executive and Martin Weigold, the group’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will join 888’s board as an independent non-executive director and a non-executive director, respectively.
Moreover, a proposal was made for Norbert Teufelberger, Bwin.party’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to remain in advisory role, whereby providing consultancy services to 888’s board.
According to Philip Yea, Chairman of Bwin.party, in a recent statement on the offer, “This is a transformational opportunity for 888 in the consolidating online gaming industry, which is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. The Enlarged Group will benefit from significantly enhanced scale, an improved product offering as well as significant cost and revenue synergies. It delivers a substantial premium to Bwin.party Shareholders whilst also giving them the opportunity to participate in this value creation opportunity. 888’s management have a well-established track record of delivering outperformance since 2011 and we look forward to working with our new colleagues to create a global leader.”
“A year ago we set out to explore industry consolidation opportunities whilst working to improve our core business. We have made substantial progress on both counts and our announcement today marks the first step in a new phase in our short history. Bringing our two groups together will generate substantial financial synergies for the benefit of both sets of shareholders and create a strong player with the breadth of product, brands and geographic coverage to grow faster than either business would be able to achieve stand-alone. Drawing upon a wealth of experience accumulated over the past few years, our management team looks forward to working with new colleagues to realise the considerable potential that this business combination presents,” added Philip Yea, Chairman of Bwin.party, in an accompanying statement.
888 is one of the world’s largest online gaming entertainment and solutions providers – the group offers casino, poker, bingo, and a variety of sports betting products and boasts the second deepest global poker liquidity. 888 is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) with a premium listing and is incorporated and headquartered in Gibraltar.