Playstudios Completes Merger with Jim Murren SPAC, Debuts as Public Company Tuesday

Posted on: June 21, 2021, 09:25h. 

Last updated on: June 22, 2021, 12:35h.

Social casino developer Playstudios, Inc. launches as a standalone publicly traded entity Tuesday. That’s after completing its merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Acies Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:ACAC).

Playstudios IPO
Scenes from a Playstudios social casino game. The company is going public following a SPAC deal. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

Acies, a blank-check firm started by former MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO Jim Murren, and Playstudios agreed to a merger in February. At that time, it was revealed the transaction values the mobile games developer at $1.1 billion. Playstudios stock will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker “MYPS.” Its warrants will be listed under the identifier “MYPSW.”

With approximately $220 million in cash, Playstudios is poised to accelerate the company’s growth initiatives, which include substantially expanding product development and acquisitions of other gaming-related companies,” according to a statement.

That $220 million in cash, though still impressive, is less than the $290 million forecast when the Acies merger was announced in February.

Cozy Relationship with MGM

Playstudios, which makes games such as myVegas Slots and myVegas Blackjack, has its own loyalty program — playAwards.

Players can redeem those points for amenities and lodging at MGM venues, including glitzy venues such as Aria, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as some of the operator’s regional casinos.

Founded in 2011, Playstudios says it has, to date, doled out 11 million rewards points with an estimated retail value of $500 million. In addition to MGM, the newly public company has relationships with over 95 partners and 290 dining, gaming, travel, and leisure brands.

The Playstudios/MGM relationship doesn’t end there. Not only was Murren one of the founders of the SPAC that’s helping the social casino firm go public, he’ll be on the board of directors, where he’ll be joined by his successor — Bill Hornbuckle.

Other board members have ties to the traditional gaming industry as well. For example, Judy Mencher served as a director of the Tropicana Las Vegas from 2009 to 2015, while Andrew Pascal — Playstudios chief executive officer and founder — previously served as president of Wynn Las Vegas and is the nephew of Elaine Wynn, the ex-wife of Steve Wynn.

Testing Choppy SPAC Waters

The Acies/Playstudios combination was announced before a thaw in the blank-check market set in — one that sent shares of both pre-deal blank-check firms and de-SPACed firms sliding.

While the gaming industry remains fertile ground for blank-check companies, recently things haven’t looked too rosy. Earlier this month, a deal between a SPAC and sports betting data provider collapsed. Short sellers are targeting some de-SPACed companies in the gaming arena, while other names in the space that came to market via blank-check deals, including online casino operators, are experiencing dramatic declines in share prices.

The cash Playstudios is coming to market with, the rise of the social casino space, and its unique relationship with MGM could help the company avert some of the recent post-SPAC weakness in the gaming industry. But that fate lies in the hands of financial markets.