Amaya CEO David Baazov Plays World’s Biggest Cash Game with Investor Buyout Plan

Posted on: February 1, 2016, 11:17h. 

Last updated on: February 1, 2016, 11:18h.

Baazov to buy Amaya
CEO David Baazov has announced that he is ready to acquire Amaya with a group of investors and take the company private. (Image: affaires.lapresse.ca)

Amaya Inc. CEO David Baazov has announced his intention to take his company private. Baazov, who revealed the surprise news in a press release this morning, said that he is currently in discussion with a group of investors. Together, they expect to make an all-cash proposal to acquire the PokerStars parent.

Amaya trades concurrently on the Toronto Stock exchange (since 2013) and on the NASDAQ  (since June 2015). Baazov said that he and his investor consortium will propose to acquire Amaya at a purchase price of CDN$21.00 per common share, representing a 40 percent premium to Friday’s closing price on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

In the Cards

In November, Baazov acquired 60,000 common shares in Amaya for $1.2 million, increasing his stake to 18.42 percent. It was a characteristically bullish move in the face of a 29 percent nosedive of Amaya’s stock on November 10th, the day company was forced to announce revised revenue forecasts for 2015.

Amaya largely blamed the strength of the US dollar for the adjustment, which, it said, had weakened the buying power of its customer base.

Despite the loss of market faith, the company remains hotly tipped for growth, thanks to its global reach and ongoing development of its sports betting operations.

Amaya’s $4.9 billion buy-out of PokerStars in 2014 was heavily leveraged, and there’s been a sense among poker players ever since that the company has been neglecting its customers in the interests of paying back debts and pleasing its shareholders.

Potential for Poker Impact Lauded

Reacting quickly to the news, Global Poker Index CEO Alex Dreyfus applauded Baazov’s goal to delist the company, saying that he thinks it will be good for poker.

“Innovation and growth need investment and taking risks,” Dreyfus wrote in an article for LinkedIn on February 1st, as the news broke. “Pokerstars has enough funds to invest, but had the obligation to show analysts immediate return. It was impossible to develop a long-term strategy, everything was focus on: Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4.

“The management was not driven by long-term approach, but by short term return. It was frustrating. It was legit, but it doesn’t help poker, and those who love that industry. No risk, no profit.

“I can sense that with this financial move, David Baazov will re-invigorate the poker landscape,” Dreyfus concluded.

According to the presser, the form or structure of a transaction is yet to be determined and no formal negotiation has taken place between Baazov and Amaya in relation to the proposal. Baazov also notes that there is “no certainty that the proposed transaction will proceed or be consummated.”