Amaya CEO David Baazov Reconfirms Buyback Plans, Quarterly Profits Strong

March 15th, 2016 | by Kaycee James
Amaya CEO David Baazov stock

Amaya CEO David Baazov says his proposal to take the publicly traded company back private will soon be presented. (Image: Reuters/reviewjournal.com)

Amaya CEO David Baazov reported stronger-than-expected company profits for the three months ending December 31 during a conference call with investors on Monday. He also reported to investors that his planned buyback of the company he founded a dozen years ago is still in the works.

“I’m in a position to move towards submitting a proposal to acquire the outstanding shares of Amaya,” Baazov revealed. The Montreal-based gaming boss said his plans are “consistent with my previously announced intentions,” and that a bid will be forthcoming.

It was a welcomed call for shareholders as Amaya posted an adjusted profit of CDN $0.57 (US $0.40) per share, topping most analyst expectations of US $0.37. Pennies indeed, but after Amaya’s last quarterly report where financial guidance was severely downgraded amid the weakening Canadian dollar compared to the US dollar, any such increase is greatly embraced.

Overall, Amaya generated $83.2 million in adjusted net earnings, a 27 percent increase from the same period in 2014. Amaya also aggregated 1.99 million new customer registrations across its gaming portfolio that includes PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

Stakes Raised

Along with a group of outside investors, Baazov has previously suggested that his all-cash offer will be roughly $15.70 per share. That values the company at around $3.1 billion.

Amaya soared Tuesday on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and Nasdaq markets. In the US, shares were up more than three percent to $14.50 during midday trading.

Investors welcomed the news that Baazov wanted to buy their shares following disappointing earnings in July, August, and September, but that might no longer be the case following an upswing in performance.

The stock’s substantial gain on Tuesday shows that shareholders believe Baazov is to be taken seriously, and that an offer is indeed in the company’s future. Investors will likely continue snagging up shares until the stock inches closer to Baazov’s rumored proposal price as they believe a near-guaranteed return is on the way.

Baazov in Control

Wall Street is certainly under the impression that Baazov’s proposal will soon come to fruition. Considering his track record, that’s probably a smart move.

Though he’s still only in his mid-30s, Baazov has quickly become one of the most powerful figures in all of interactive gaming.

In 2014, Baazov convinced GSO Capital Partners, a New York City-based asset and credit management firm under the Blackstone Group, to finance his then little-known company in acquiring PokerStars and Full Tilt for a staggering $4.9 billion.

Bearing in mind the poor reputations in the US of the poker networks and criminal legal proceedings brought by the Department of Justice, persuading a firm whose assets total nearly $80 billion signals the executive prowess Baazov possesses.

It now appears the 35-year-old CEO will soon regain complete control, along with his investors, of the company in which he founded in 2004. PokerStars enters New Jersey next week, and should additional states move to legalize iPoker in 2016, the future will continue to look bullish for David Baazov.

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