888 Holdings has confirmed that it has made an offer for bwin.party, making it one of several companies reportedly in negotiations for bwin.
GVC Holdings, based on the Isle of Man, also confirmed that it is making its own bid for the online gambling company. GVC has combined with Canadian supplier Amaya Gaming—which owns PokerStars—to make a combined £1.5 billion bid for bwin. The bid is seen as a direct response to 888 Holdings’ move to acquire bwin.
Bwin.party announced in November that it had entered “preliminary discussions with a number of interested parties regarding a variety of potential business combinations.” Brands owned by bwin.party include PartyPoker, PartyCasino and FoxyBingo.
Last month, bwin issued a statement saying it was “entering a further stage of discussions” with bidders after news of 888’s and GVC’s bids was released.
888, based in Gibraltar, said in a news release that its board of directors believe it makes sense combining with bwin.party, and that it had submitted a cash-and-share offer for the company.
“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 issue, and to be issued share capital of bwin.party for consideration comprising cash and 888 shares,” the company said in a statement.
“Due to the size of the proposed transaction, it would require, inter alia, the approval of 888 shareholders,” the statement said. “888 shareholders representing approximately 59 percent of 888’s share capital have irrevocably committed, subject to customary conditions, to vote in favor of the proposed transaction.”
GVC and Amaya reportedly teamed up for its reported €1.5 billion bid to split bwin.party in an attempt to hold off 888’s move for the company. The two companies had initially bid separately.
Amaya is reportedly interested in bwin.party’s poker assets and possibly its sports book. It is in talks with GVC to make the purchase with a combination of cash from Amaya and GVC shares. According to reports on the negotiations, GVC would buy bwin.party outright and Amaya would have the option to purchase its poker operations.
Another potential suitor for bwin, Playtech, has reportedly backed out of the competition, as has bookmaker William Hill.
But bwin.party chairman Philip Yea has told analysts and investors not to “make assumptions” about how the potential sale would be structured.
Yea was asked if the company was up for sale as a whole, or in smaller pieces, during a call with analysts.
Yea said the “focus of the board has been on improving the group’s core business and exploring industry consolidation” opportunities.