Bally’s Rebuffed in World Poker Tour Takeover Bid

Posted on: March 22, 2021, 11:01h. 

Last updated on: March 22, 2021, 11:42h.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, Bally’s Corp. (NYSE:BALY) usually gets its desired target. That may not be the case with the World Poker Tour (WPT).

WPT buyer
The late Mike Sexton poses for a photo above. Another bid for the World Poker Tour, for which Sexton commentated, is emerging. (Image: Getty Images)

Allied Esports Entertainment (NASDAQ:AESE), the current owner of the WPT, said today it revised an agreement with Element Partners, LLC to sell the poker unit.

The revised stock purchase agreement increases the overall purchase price from $68.25 million at closing and $10 million guaranteed revenue share payments paid over three years after closing, to $90.5 million, all payable at closing,” according to a statement.

That $90.5 million proposal slightly bests the $90 million Bally’s offered last week for WPT. Earlier this month, the casino operator bid $100 million to acquire Allied outright, but that pitch was roughly $30 million less than the California-based target’s market capitalization at that time.

In January, Allied struck an agreements with Element to divest WPT. But the Bally’s offer appeared to be superior prior to Element’s revision.

For Bally’s, WPT Hope not Lost

In the new Allied/Element accord, there’s still wiggle room for the seller to back out, assuming it nets a better proposal for the poker business.

The revised pact “extends the date on which AESE and its subsidiary, Allied Esports Media, Inc., or Element may terminate the revised stock purchase agreement if any conditions to the closing have not been satisfied (and such terminating party is not in material breach of the revised stock purchase agreement) from March 31, 2021, to September 30, 2021,” according to the statement.

As one of the most acquisitive gaming companies, Bally’s may float another bid for WPT. But the Rhode Island-based company hasn’t confirmed that as of yet. Interestingly, a March 18 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicates the casino operator is selling nearly 6.99 million shares of equity, which will raise $490.39 million. Given Bally’s reputation, some of that capital could be used for acquisitions.

It’s improbable that most of that cash would go toward a purchase of WPT.  But it gives Bally’s the firepower to raise it’s offer should it so desire.

Clock Is Ticking

If Bally’s wants WPT, it will need to make a compelling pitch to Allied Esports over the near-term, because that company’s board already unanimously approved Element’s new offer.

“After such review, the Board of Directors determined that the Bally’s proposal did not constitute a ‘Superior Proposal’ (as such term was defined in the stock purchase agreement with Element),” said the WPT parent in the statement.

Allied is estimating the WPT sale will close in late April, meaning Bally’s has limited time to make a new offer.