London-listed online gaming operator GVC Holdings confirmed Tuesday that its proposal to acquire the entire share capital of bwin.party digital entertainment will be jointly financed between GVC and Canada’s Amaya, the world’s biggest publicly listed gaming company.
After 888 entered the battle to acquire bwin.party yesterday, speculation had been mounting that Amaya would also enter the fray, either through a separate offer or through GVC’s proposal.
In a statement to the London Stock Exchange this morning, GVC noted the recent press speculation and confirmed that its bid to acquire bwin.party would be jointly financed by GVC and PokerStars owner Amaya.
It remains unclear at this stage whether Amaya is interested in bwin.party’s online poker business, namely Partypoker, or its online casino and sports betting business – a new product vertical that PokerStars and Full Tilt have recently entered.
Despite its recent US$4.9bn acquisition of the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands, Amaya had cash of CAD$371.6m at the end of the first quarter and had reduced its long-term debt to $3.38bn, down from $3.50bn at the end of last year. It had a market value of $4.31bn at the close of trading Friday.
“There can be no certainty that the submission of this proposal will lead to the company's proposal being selected as a proposed acquirer of bwin.party or, in turn, completing an acquisition,” said GVC.
In a statement Tuesday, Amaya said that strategic acquisitions are one component of Amaya's growth strategy and, as such, it "regularly evaluates and sometimes pursues potential acquisition opportunities that may be accretive to shareholders and can expand its customer base and consumer offerings through the addition of new products, new geographies, and/or new consumers."
"From time to time, this process leads to discussions with potential acquisition targets," said the company. "However, there is no agreement between GVC and bwin.party and there can be no guarantee that these discussions will result in any such agreement or the completion of any transaction."
As a general policy, Amaya admitted that it does not comment publicly on potential acquisitions unless and until a binding legal agreement has been signed. Today's announcement confirms the statement issued by GVC this morning, which met GVC's regulatory requirements.
The increased speculation over the past few days has seen bwin.party’s share price increase by 11.24 per cent on Friday following GVC’s initial announcement, while 888’s announcement yesterday pushed shares in bwin.party up by a further 8.60 per cent in trading Monday to 108.00 per share.
The news has seen shares in bwin.party digital entertainment plc (Co.Data) (LSE:BPTY) rise 0.64 per cent to 108.49 pence per share this morning, while GVC Holdings plc (Co.Data) (AIM:GVC) shares are trading up 0.11 per cent at 462.00 pence per share in London. Amaya Inc's (Co.Data) (TSX:AYA) shares closed down 0.86 per cent at CAD$32.32 per share in Toronto yesterday.