Looks like bwin.party is the debutante at the online gaming ball who has all the names on her dance card. A major bidding war has heated up following some initial suitor announcements late last week.
The latest bid came from 888 Holdings, which announced on Monday that it was submitting a proposal to purchase bwin.party, just days after GVC Holdings had made a similar offer to purchase the online gambling firm.
However, that was only the first announcement on what proved to be a busy morning for those following the bwin.party saga, as the online gambling firm continued the process of considering mergers and acquisitions by others in the gambling industry.
888 publicly announced its bid on Monday morning, saying that 59 percent of shareholders in the company had committed themselves to supporting the potential acquisition of bwin.party. While there were no public figures released that would reveal the amount of the bid, 888 said that it comprised both cash and shares in 888.
The 888 offer came just days after GVC made a similar bid last Friday. That takeover seemed to be potentially more complex: GVC is a much smaller company than bwin.party, which would make the bid a “reverse takeover,” and GVC had also yet to receive approval for the move from GVC shareholders.
Amaya, GVC Join Ranks
However, the GVC bid received a major boost on Monday. According to Reuters, Amaya, the Canadian firm that owns PokerStars and Full Tilt, is now said to be in talks with GVC to create a combined bid to purchase bwin.party. The bid, which would be worth about €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion), would consist of cash from Amaya, along with shares in GVC.
The heavy interest in bwin.party comes at a time when many companies in the online gambling industry are looking to consolidate. Higher taxes and more regulation, particularly in Europe, have led companies to look into cost-saving measures, including finding synergies with former rivals.
The battle over bwin.party could be a fierce one. Amaya is the largest name in online gambling at the moment, as PokerStars is the world’s largest poker site by an order of magnitude over any of its competitors.
However, 888poker has become the clear Number Two in the online poker arms race, and 888 also has significant Internet casino and bingo operations. Amaya is the much larger company at the moment, but if 888 were to acquire bwin.party, that would close the gap between the two significantly.
From bwin.party’s perspective, the more serious bidders it can attract, the better. Since the 2011 merger of Bwin Interactive Entertainment and PartyGaming, the company has seen its earnings drop each year; since late last year, the company has been looking for some sort of a change, whether that be a merger, being acquired by a rival, or selling off parts of its business to refocus on its core areas.
On Monday, bwin.party acknowledged that it has been in talks with 888, issuing a statement similar to the one it released on Friday after the GVC rumors began circulating.
“The Board of bwin.party has noted the announcement made by 888 Holdings plc and confirms that it has received a proposal to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of bwin.party,” the statement read. “The Board and its advisers are conducting a detailed review of the proposals received to-date and will make a further announcement in due course, however there can be no certainty that these proposals will result in a transaction being completed.”
The announcements have bolstered the bwin.party stock price on the London Stock Exchange, with the company up more than eight percent in Monday trading.