Tuesday October 4, 2011 : French buyer believes it may be possible
Hard on the heels of the announcement that France's Groupe Bernard Tapie has conditionally agreed to buy Full Tilt Poker, Laurent Tapie, md of the company and son of the owner, was interviewed by the publication iGaming France Friday.
Although he generally adhered to the formal public statement announcing the deal, Tapie did reveal that he hoped to have FTP up and running again – presumably under new management – by January 2012.
Tapie jnr emphasised in the interview that his company had the skills and financial clout to turn the troubled online poker operator around, noting that it would not have become involved if it did not strongly believe in FTP’s future potential.
He reiterated that Groupe Bernard Tapie had demonstrated that it had the necessary funds to repay FTP's debt, and meet its obligations in terms of monies owed to players. He additionally revealed that his company intends to keep the Full Tilt Poker brand alive after the recent tarnishing has been addressed.
“The brand is not in question, it’s a well-known brand and the technology is widely recognised as being possibly the best in the industry,” Tapie told iGaming France. "The management of the company is being questioned and it will be changed should the takeover be concluded.
"I believe we have the tools necessary to once again make the site one of the leaders in the online poker sector.”
Tapie appeared to be under no illusions regarding the tough path ahead, referring to the negotiations that will be required with the US Department of Justice, which has seized hundreds of millions of Full Tilt dollars in the process of taking the company down this year. However, he appeared to be optimistic and motivated to make Full Tilt Poker work again.
"We want to find ways where we don’t have to put in all the money, and will be talking to the US Department of Justice next week," he revealed.
What Tapie did not disclose is the consideration his company will have to pay for Full Tilt, which when added to the company's debts and other obligations is likely to be very substantial.
As previously reported in InfoPowa bulletins, Groupe Bernard Tapie has impressive experience in taking over, and turning around, troubled businesses.
In related news, there are reports that the current CEO of Full Tilt Poker, Ray Bitar, has added to the blizzard of legal paperwork swirling around his company with an application to fight the Department of Justice's seizure warrants on various bank accounts with which he is associated.
The application is apparently being made under the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure; Admiralty and Maritime Claims, which covers procedures related to "commercial activities that are land based or occur wholly on land, that are maritime in character."
The thrust of Bitar's application appears to be that "the assets subject to forfeiture are neither proceeds nor instrumentalities of any crimes in any jurisdiction in the United States or elsewhere" and that he should be permitted to challenge the forfeiture and the DoJ allegations surrounding it.