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Baazov’s Amaya bid in doubt as named investor denies involvement

23rd November 2016 10:49 am GMT
David Baazov’s bid to retake control of the company he formerly led as chief executive has taken another turn, with one of his named investors claiming to have no involvement in the deal. Here is what we know so far.Insider trading charges have not proved damaging enough to deter David Baazov from pushing ahead with his bid to acquire Amaya and de-list it from the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. Many had expected this to derail his takeover attempt, especially after he resigned from the company’s board and his executive role, but his CAD$24 per share bid lodged earlier this month shows he remains serious. But the saga took another strange twist this week after one of the finance firms named in his bid said that it does not know "what Amaya is". At the time of announcing his bid to acquire 100 per cent of Amaya, Baazov said that he had the backing of private equity firms Head & Shoulders Global Investment Fund, Goldenway Capital, Ferdyne Advisory Inc, and KBC Aldini Capital. However, speaking to the Toronto Globe and Mail yesterday, KBC Aldini chief executive Kalani Lal denied any knowledge of the deal or even what Amaya was. Lal says he has filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), accusing Baazov of fraudulently using his company's name to push through the deal. Lal was unwilling to comment on the matter when contacted by Gaming Intelligence, although he has agreed to provide us with further information later today after speaking with KBC’s legal advisors.This is what we know so far. KBC has claimed to have no knowledge of the deal - or of Amaya - suggesting that Baazov has been untruthful. But Baazov is a slick operator and it seems inconceivable that he would randomly pick out names to add to his proposal to Amaya. Lal assertion that he has complained to the SEC also raised our eyebrows. Yes, Amaya is listed on NASDAQ, but its main listing is in Canada. Why not file the complaint with the Toronto Stock Exchange where his takeover bid was filed, or Québec’s Authorité des marchés financiers (AMF)? Our investigation led us to KBC Euro Credit, a Malta-based business connected to the Dubai-based KBC Aldini. Lal serves as its chairman, and former Malta Gaming Authority chief executive Reuben Portanier sits on its board. Maybe Baazov meant KBC Euro when he referred to KBC Aldini. Unfortunately not. KBC Euro also denies any involvement in the bid, telling Gaming Intelligence that while Aldini holds a stake in the business, it is “not directly involved” in the matter and has had no dealings with Amaya. Amaya has not offered much of a response to this latest revelation, saying only that it “continues to carefully assess” the proposal. But the confusion has certainly affected investor confidence, with Amaya shares dropping 5.99 per cent in Toronto Tuesday. There are certainly more questions than satisfactory answers at this stage. But what does this mean for Baazov’s chances of taking over Amaya? He has not been deterred by the insider trading charges and resolutely denies the allegations. But what of this latest twist? Many of our usual go-to sources of credible information on Amaya don't want to comment publicly anymore, with one suggesting that there is now a "toxic air" about the company. The latest revelations will not have helped. And they do little to inspire confidence in the world's leading online poker operator. The hard working folks at Amaya must be wishing that they could wake up from this nightmare, but it looks like it's not over yet.rhm@gamingintelligence.com
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