Online gambling firm GVC Holdings Plc returned on Monday with a new 1-billion-pound ($1.55 billion) bid for rival Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, looking to gatecrash a recently accepted offer from 888.

Bwin, which went on the block last year, accepted a cash and stock deal worth almost 900 million pounds from online casino and poker firm 888 this month, shunning an earlier 908-million-pound offer from GVC and Canada’s Amaya Inc due to execution risk concerns.

The tussle for Bwin is the latest in a flurry of M&A activity in the industry, a trend likely to continue as firms expand to help offset increasing taxes and tighter regulation in Britain.

Bwin, which has struggled with the decline of regulated poker markets in Europe, confirmed on Monday that it had received a new offer from GVC and said it would make an announcement when appropriate.

“Whilst we believe the acquisition of Bwin would add value for GVC shareholders, and for Bwin shareholders represents a 12p (10 percent premium), in our view over the long term 888 would add more value,” analysts at Panmure Gordon wrote in a note.

GVC said it would finance the new deal through a combination of new GVC shares and a 400-million-euro ($443 million) senior secured loan from Cerberus Capital.

The company also said it planned to raise about 150 million pounds through an equity placing to fund restructuring costs and refinance existing Bwin.party debt.

BATTLE FOR BWIN

GVC’s offer of 122.5 pence per share, consisting of 25p in cash and the rest in new GVC shares, is 18 percent higher than 888’s offer price of 104.09 pence.

The firm, whose market value is less than a third of Bwin’s, said the deal would lead to cost benefits of more than 135 million euros ($149.5 million) per annum by the end of 2017, more than double 888’s estimated cost saving of $70 million.

888 declined to comment on whether it planned to raise its offer, though analysts said they widely expected it to do so.

“This is a real statement of intent from GVC. The proposed premium over the accepted offer by 888 is such that the bwin.party board will probably have no choice but to reconsider its acceptance of the 888 offer,” Davy Research analysts said.

“We would be surprised if 888 does not come back with a counter-offer of its own.”

Bwin’s shares rose 1.4 percent to 110.1 pence on the London Stock Exchange, while GVC’s fell 1.4 percent to 420.05 pence by 1000 GMT (0600 EDT).

(Additional reporting by Neil Maidment in London; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi and Mark Heinrich)

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