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Bwin-Party Divestments For NJ Online Gambling
Thursday October 31,2013 : BWIN.PARTY DIVESTMENTS PAVE THE WAY FOR NEW JERSEY ONLINE GAMBLING LICENSE
Parasol, DeLeon elect to suspend shares in special 36 month trusts.
Party Gaming founders and subsequent major shareholders in the merged Bwin.Party online gambling group, Ruth Parasol and Russell DeLeon, have elected to put their shares into divestiture trust accounts to pave the way for the group to obtain New Jersey online gambling licensing.
Industry observers have speculated that the arrangements may be designed to alleviate state regulator concerns.
In an announcement Thursday, Bwin.Party stated:
"On 29 July 2013, bwin.party applied to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for a Casino Service Industry Enterprise Licence.
"As part of the application process, certain substantial shareholders of bwin.party are required to submit individual licence applications to the DGE or otherwise dispose of their shareholdings.
"As a result, certain substantial shareholders of bwin.party have elected to place their bwin.party shares into divestiture trusts, through which their shares will be divested over a period of up to 36 months in one or more transactions at times to be determined."
The announcement goes on to identify the shareholders concerned, revealing:
"Emerald Bay Limited, wholly-owned by Ruth Parasol DeLeon, and Stinson Ridge Limited, wholly-owned by James Russell DeLeon have elected, pursuant to a divorce settlement and for reasons of privacy, to enter into a divestiture agreement with bwin.party and the DGE, rather than submit individual Licence applications.
"Emerald currently owns 58,498,667 (7.16 percent) bwin.party shares and Stinson currently owns 58,498,666 (7.16 percent) bwin.party shares. Under the terms of the Divestiture Agreement, the shareholders have respectively agreed, subject to the conditions described below, to transfer their entire holding of bwin.party shares into separate trusts, and such bwin.party shares will thereafter be divested by the trustees of their respective trusts, working together, in one or more transactions."
The conditions referred to include:
Bwin.party will be required to obtain a transactional waiver from the DGE in order to participate in online gaming from the date the New Jersey online gaming market opens.
Under the terms of the Divestiture Agreement, as soon as bwin.party is granted a transactional waiver by the DGE in respect of its licence application, Parasol and DeLeon have agreed to place the entirety of their then current holdings of bwin.party shares into trusts. The main terms of the Divestiture Agreement take effect on the date that the New Jersey online gaming market opens on November 26.
The divestiture arrangements are subject to bwin.party receiving and maintaining the Licence.
Under the terms of the Divestiture Agreement, Parasol and DeLeon will be entitled to direct the independent trustees of their respective Trusts to divest their respective bwin.party shares, on or off-market, to one or more transferees, in one transaction or a series of transactions, over the 24 month period commencing on the date that the first online wagers are allowed to be taken in New Jersey under the new regulations.
In the event the Trusts have not disposed of all the bwin.party shares by the end of the above 24 month period, bwin.party will take control of the divestiture process and dispose of any remaining bwin.party shares in accordance with the disposal provisions in the articles of association over a 12 month period.
The Trustees of the Emerald Trust and the Stinson Trust have agreed to work together with a view to divesting the shares held by each Trust in an orderly manner, with the Trustee of the Emerald Trust taking the lead in coordinating the timing and process of the divestiture.
DeLeon and Parasol will continue to be beneficially interested in the bwin.party shares for as long as the Trusts continue to own the underlying bwin.party shares. The Trusts are entitled to receive any dividends or other distributions declared in respect of the bwin.party shares held in trust.
The terms of the Divestiture Agreement provide that the Trustees will act independently of Parasol and DeLeon, save that they may direct the Trustees as to the manner and timing of any disposal of the bwin.party shares held in trust during the initial 24 month divestiture period.
The Trustees will be able to exercise the voting rights attaching to the bwin.party shares held in the Trusts at their sole discretion. The Trustees of each Trust are required to co-ordinate the manner in which they exercise their voting rights over bwin.party shares, with the Trustees of both trusts required to vote in the same manner.
Parasol and DeLeon have an agreement with bwin.party which provides that whilst together they have a direct or indirect interest in 5 percent or more of bwin.party’s issued share capital, they collectively have the right to nominate one individual to the Board.
Currently this nomination right is not being exercised, and under the terms of the Divestiture Agreement, the Trusts have agreed not to exercise this Board nomination right for so long as the divestiture arrangements remain in force. Either Trust, however, may transfer this single right to nominate a Board member to a transferee that acquires at least 6 percent of the bwin.party's issued share capital.
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