Fox Claims to Have Contract with Flutter for Fastball Price on FanDuel Investment

Posted on: April 7, 2021, 10:52h. 

Last updated on: April 7, 2021, 02:51h.

Things between Flutter Entertainment (OTC:PDYPY) and Fox Corp. (NASDAQ:FOXA) are getting testy. The former eyes a spin-off of the FanDuel business, and the latter seeks a position in the online sportsbook operator on favorable terms.

Fox FanDuel
Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch and his wife Sarah photographed at the White House in 2019 above. His company is suing Flutter regarding a stake in FanDuel. (Image: Getty Images)

A source familiar with the matter told that the media company has an agreement in place with the Irish gaming company to acquire 18.6 percent of FanDuel. That’s at the same prices Flutter paid to buy out Fastball’s stake in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) provider.

When Flutter bought out Fastball’s 37.2 percent interest in FanDuel last December, it paid $4.175 billion. On that basis, Fox would expect to pay $2.08 billion for 18.6 percent of FanDuel. However, the Irish company sees things differently and wants to garner what it believes is fair market value in a transaction with Fox.

The broadcaster is balking and filed a suit against Flutter last week in New York’s Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS).

Fox has a contract with Flutter that specifically states it is entitled to purchase an 18.6 percent interest in FanDuel at the same price Flutter paid Fastball for that interest,” according to the source.

The source said that agreement was struck so that Flutter could proceed with its takeover of The Stars Group (TSG). Last year, Flutter paid $12.2 billion for TSG — a deal that created the world’s largest online gaming company.

Fox Obliged Flutter TSG Acquisition

The media company’s relationship with TSG dates back to the $4.7 billion sale of Sky Bet in 2018. As part of that deal, Stars agreed with Fox to specific contractual exclusivity and non-competition obligations in the US.

That meant TSG would only conduct gaming and wagering operations in the US through an arrangement with the media outfit. The level of exclusivity was a sticking point in Flutter’s TSG acquisition until Fox agreed to waive it. By Fox doing that, FanDuel and FOX Bet operated independently of one another as part of a dual-brand strategy.

“This created significant value for Flutter, in exchange for which it agreed to give Fox the guaranteed right to purchase 18.6 percent of the ownership stake in FanDuel that Flutter had the right to acquire from Fastball at the same price Flutter paid,” according to the source.

Fox wasn’t left out in the cold. When Flutter acquired TSG, the media company gained a 2.5 percent stake in the Irish gaming company, making it one of the FanDuel parent’s largest investors. Based on Flutter’s current market capitalization of $37.85 billion, Fox’s shares are worth $946.25 million.

Seeing Things from Both Sides

For all the legal maneuvering and verbal jostling, the Fox/Flutter state of affairs is relatively simple. The broadcaster wants to acquire 18.6 percent of FanDuel, as it has rights to do, and it wants to pay a certain price.

Flutter previously said it intends to honor that agreement. But it wants to garner a higher price tag for its plum asset.

Both companies’ positions are understandable because FanDuel exposure is lucrative. Analysts see the largest US online sportsbook operator adding to Fox’s bottom line, while Flutter investors — of which Fox is one — stand to benefit because the investment community believes a FanDuel spin-off will be valued in excess of rival DraftKings’ (NASDAQ:DKNG) $25 billion market cap.