888 Enters Contest to Buy Online Gaming Operator Bwin.partyPaul Jarvis
888 Holdings Plc said it made a proposal to buy Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc, starting a contest with GVC Holdings Plc for the online gaming company.
A deal would have “significant industrial logic,” 888 said Monday, days after London-based GVC said it submitted a proposal to acquire Bwin.party, whose online gaming brands include partypoker, partycasino and FoxyBingo.
Bwin.party rose 6.6 percent to 106 pence at 9:03 a.m. in London, extending Friday’s 11 percent gain that was prompted by news of GVC’s proposal. That boosted the company’s market value to 873 million pounds ($1.4 billion), more than 888’s 585 million pounds, and GVC’s 281 million pounds.
The interest from 888 and GVC may be just the start of a race for control of Bwin.party, which was formed by a 2011 merger. Bwin.party Chief Executive Officer Norbert Teufelberger has been considering a sale since at least November, when the company said it was in early talks with several parties.
“All eyes will be on other potential bidders such as Amaya to see whether they will enter the race for Bwin.party,” Gavin Kelleher, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin, said in a note. Canadian gaming company Amaya Inc. became the biggest player in the $4 billion global business of online poker last year when it acquired PokerStars for $4.9 billion.
Bwin.party said its board and advisers are conducting a detailed review of the proposals from 888 and GVC. There’s no certainty of a transaction being completed, the company said.
888 said its proposal comprises cash and shares and would require investor approval due to its size. Shareholders with a combined 59 percent stake are in favor, it said.
888 shares fell 3.2 percent to 164.25 pence in early London trading. GVC, which teamed with William Hill Plc to take over Sportingbet Plc in 2013, was unchanged at 458.5 pence.
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