• Giant offer for online business is more than $4 billion
  • Caesars unit sale would not include World Series of Poker

A consortium including China’s Giant Interactive Group, backed by billionaire Shi Yuzhu, is in talks to acquire Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s online game unit for more than $4 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Giant-led group has emerged as the leading contender for the business after an auction process, said one of the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Reuters reported earlier that the Giant consortium is in advanced talks to acquire the unit and has been granted a short period for exclusive negotiations, citing unidentified people.

Caesars Interactive is one of the largest players in the market for casino-style games on Facebook, with titles such as Slotomania and Bingo Blitz. The business is projected to generate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of more than $360 million this year, according to one of the people. That’s an increase of at least 27 percent from the $282.7 million ebitda reported for last year, according to a filing.

Any sale would not include the World Series of Poker, which Caesars Interactive also owns, one of the people said. Giant didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Caesars put its largest unit into bankruptcy in January 2015 and has been negotiating with Caesars Entertainment Operating Co.’s creditors to come to a settlement. Ownership of the interactive unit is split between the parent Caesars Entertainment and a publicly traded company, Caesars Acquisition Co.

Giant, an online game developer, delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

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