David Baazov Pulls the Plug on Amaya Offer, Deal Now Off the Table
Posted on: December 20, 2016, 11:29h.
Last updated on: December 20, 2016, 12:25h.
It’s an undone deal for David Baazov. The ex-Amaya CEO announced Tuesday that he has ditched his bid to buy Amaya, the parent of PokerStars and Full Tilt. A press release issued by Baazov revealed that negotiations between both parties had broken down when shareholders’ asking price became too rich for his blood.
Thus brings to end an eventful, and occasionally baffling, takeover attempt that’s spanned a year between conception and abortion. It was a year in which Baazov was charged with securities fraud, resigned as Amaya chairman and CEO, and yet pressed on regardless with his ambition to take the company private.
Premium “Too High”
“The decision to terminate my attempted acquisition of Amaya was not an easy one,” said Baazov in the presser. “I retained a full suite of advisors, arranged committed financing, and engaged in constructive negotiations with Amaya’s board of directors. I submitted an unconditional, fully financed offer of $24 per share, higher than my original announced intention to submit a $21 per share offer.
“However, during the discussions it became evident that the share price premium demanded by certain shareholders exceeded the price at which my investors and I would be willing to complete a transaction. After consulting with my advisors, I determined that the best course of action for me and Amaya would be for me to end my attempt to purchase the Company,” Baazov’s statement ended.
The former chief first announced his intention to prepare a bid at the beginning of February, but when insider trading charges broke in March, they appeared to derail the proposal.
Undeterred, Baazov, who vigorously denies the charges hanging over him, returned in November to announce he had secured financing for a $6.7 billion bid to take over the firm. Except that he hadn’t. Within days, one of the companies listed as a backer, KBC Aldani Capital, said it had no knowledge of the deal and had never even heard of Amaya.
It’s unclear exactly how this happened. One possible explanation that’s been bandied about is that Baazov was stiffed by a middle man claiming to represent KBC, but he has never confirmed or even addressed this rumor publicly.
While he returned with an amended bid, it seemed his credibility had been damaged by the fiasco. Activist investor Jason Ader, who owns one percent of Amaya, publicly said the bid was suspicious and lacked in credibility. He called on Baazov to increase the offer and provide more details about his financial sources.
“As the founder of Amaya this was not a decision I took lightly, as it was always my intent to arrive at an outcome that was in the best interests of all shareholders,” said Baazov om Tuesday. “I wish my friends and former colleagues at Amaya continued success in driving value for all shareholders.”