After months and months of wrangling between two major bidders, GVC Holdings finally received the nod as the winning bidder for international online gambling giant, Bwin.Party. The deal is not yet finalized as GVC awaits approval from shareholders, but already, a throng of suitors have risen from the woodworks in hopes of biting off individual assets from the Bwin brand.
For most of the year, GVC (owner of Sportingbet) and 888 Holdings (owner of online gambling brands 888Poker, 888Casino, etc.) were in a £1bn dead heat battle to takeover bwin.party. GVC’s latest bid of about £1.1bn, and its heightened proposal regarding the continued success of the bwin name, effectively won the takeover in early September when 888 declined to make another counter-proposal.
The acquisition has yet to be finalized, awaiting the official approval from shareholders, but for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much a done deal. With that information in hand, multiple suitors have already begun approaching GVC in hopes of scooping one slice or another from the Bwin pie.
According to a write-up on The Telegraph this morning, GVC is already receiving attention from trade buyers and potential bidders who expressed interest in acquiring certain assets from the Bwin label, including Cashcade, Foxy Bingo, Kalixa and resources from the online gambling giant’s US-facing portfolio.
GVC’s Chief Executive Officer, Kenny Alexander, confirmed that preliminary meetings have already been entertained from potential bidders, particularly those seeking possession of bwin’s integrated online payment system, Kalixa, and its assets in the US, which include operation of the country’s highest revenue generating online casino and poker network, PartyBorgata, in New Jersey.
Mr. Alexander told The Telegraph that discussions with the various suitors never surpassed the preliminary meeting stage, though. He asserted that GVC has no interest in selling off any Bwin assets once the buyout is finalized. Rather the company’s ultimate focus will be on boosting the brand’s overall revenue, which is currently operating in the red.
However, GVC is paying a hefty price for Bwin.party, which includes a €400 million, high-interest loan from Cerberus Capital Management. Mr. Alexander said his company is already looking into refinancing of the loan come 2016.
Originally, GVC had teamed up with Canadian-based Amaya Gaming in an effort to complete the acquisition without need of acquiring additional debt. But when Bwin shareholders expressed greater interest in a bid from 888 (partly due to their distaste in Amaya’s participation), GVC dropped the partnership, increased its bid and won back the approval of Bwin.
It’s worth noting, however, that when GVC separated itself from Amaya in July, Mr. Alexander did say that he might consider selling off some of Bwin’s assets down the line.
The original GVC/Amaya bid was intended to give GVC control of the online sports betting division, while Amaya was most interested in the online poker side of the business. The CEO said in July that, if the takeover is successful, GVC might be willing to negotiate with interested buyers in the sale of Bwin’s bingo, casino and poker assets, provided that suitable offers were presented.