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888 CONFIRMS INTEREST IN ACQUIRING BWIN PARTY
Monday May 18,2015 : 888 CONFIRMS INTEREST IN ACQUIRING BWIN PARTY (Update)
"...significant industrial logic in a combination of 888 and bwin.party,"
Following media reports over the weekend that 888 is about to announce a bid to acquire rival online gambling group Bwin Party Digital Entertainment , the company issued a statement early Monday confirming its interest.
"The Board believes that there is significant industrial logic in a combination of 888 and bwin.party, benefiting both companies and all shareholders and accordingly, has submitted a proposal regarding the acquisition of the entire issued and to be issued share capital of bwin.party for consideration comprising cash and 888 shares," the 888 statement advises.
"Due to the size of the proposed transaction, it would require, inter alia, the approval of 888 shareholders. 888 shareholders representing approximately 59 percent of 888's share capital have irrevocably committed, subject to customary conditions, to vote in favour of the proposed transaction," it continues, indicating that the Israeli majority shareholders of 888 are supportive.
The statement ends with the customary warning that there can be no certainty that the submission of 888's proposal will lead to the company being selected as the proposed acquirer of bwin.party or, in turn, completing a transaction. A further update will be provided in due course.
Earlier reports indicated that a merged 888-Bwin Party business could be worth over GBP 1 billion
Bwin Party has been on the sales block since last November (see previous InfoPowa reports) and has confirmed that it is considering approaches from several companies, among them GVC Holdings, which has proposed a reverse takeover arrangement in its most recent revised proposal.
A reverse takeover could also be the way forward in a 888-Bwin deal; 888's market cap is around GBP 600 million, lower than Bwin’s just over GBP 800 million. AIM-listed GVC is valued at around GBP 280 million.
Earlier this year 888 was itself the target of an acquisition bid by William Hill plc as industry consolidation continues; that proposal of around 200p a share was rejected by the majority shareholders of 888 as too low.
Bwin Party continued to battle last year, reporting a drop in earnings of 6 percent in its third consecutive year of poor results, despite extensive cost cutting and reorganisation.
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