888 Holdings, the owner and operator of 888 online casino, has landed a major coup with a NZD$2.13 billion takeover of Gibraltar-based rivals Bwin.party in the face of a stiff counter bid by GVC Holdings, which is backed by giant Canadian online group Amaya Gaming.
The merger of the companies’ digital platforms and online gaming operations will put it in a position to be able to challenge the biggest names in the industry, and will create combined annual revenues in the region of NZD$1.67 billion. As well as online casinos, the enlarged group will be a prominent player in sports betting, poker, and online bingo.
This acquisition by 888, which was itself the subject of a NZD$1.77 billion takeover bid earlier this year in February by William Hill, rival online casino operator and the UK’s biggest bookmaker, is the latest in a series of mergers and acquisitions by international online gaming companies in the wake of recent legislative changes and tougher taxation regimes in countries such as the UK. It also reflects the growing need of online casino operators to increase funds and revenue so as to remain competitive and up-to-date in the ever-changing world of online gaming technology. The merger is expected to generate substantial cash holdings as well as providing future shareholder returns.
Brian Mattingley, executive chairman of 888, said, “This is a transformational opportunity for 888 in the consolidating online gaming industry, which is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. The enlarged group will benefit from significantly enhanced scale, an improved product offering as well as significant cost and revenue synergies.”
The 888 bid, which was first made in May of this year, valued Bwin.party shares at NZD$2.46515, representing a 16.4% premium to shareholders, who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the deal which is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2016. although final details of the deal have yet to be formalized.
Bwin shareholders will hold approximately 48.9% of the newly enlarged company, while two of Bwin’s current executives, CFO Martin Weigold and Liz Catchpole, chair of the company’s audit and risk committee, will join the 888 board as non-executive directors. However, current Bwin CEO Norbert Teufelberger will not be joining the newly expanded group, although he is expected to act as a consultant in the future.
888 is a prominent name in the New Zealand online casino industry and you can read a review of their online pokies and other games here.