Amaya Officially Acquires Rational Group

August 5th, 2014 | by Brian Corlisse
Amaya Buys Rational Group

With the purchase of Rational Group now complete, Amaya hopes to bring PokerStars back to the United States. (Image: rttnews.com)

Amaya may not even have been on your radar last year, but they’re now the biggest name in online poker. After several months of regulatory approvals, shareholder votes and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Amaya has officially announced that they have completed their acquisition of the Oldford Group Limited, the parent company of the Rational Group, PokerStars, and Full Tilt.

The purchase was made for $4.9 billion, and was paid entirely in cash after Amaya acquired several billions in financing to complete the acquisition. According to Amaya Chairman and CEO David Baazov, the company is “extremely pleased” to have put the business of the buyout behind them.

“Through PokerStars, Full Tilt and its multiple live poker tours and events, Rational’s brands comprise the world’s largest poker business, generating diversified and recurring revenues across the globe from its extremely loyal customer base,” Baazov said in a press release.

World’s Largest Public Online Gambling Firm

As a result of the acquisition, Amaya is now the world’s largest publicly traded online gaming company. That has concerned some fans of PokerStars and Full Tilt, who have questioned whether such a large company can replicate the kind of service seen from the family-owned Rational Group, especially now that Mark and Isai Scheinberg will no longer be with the company. However, Baazov said that most of the senior management team will still be at PokerStars and Full Tilt, and that there are no plans to change the direction for Rational’s flagship properties.

“Rational’s success is attributable to the company’s core values of integrity, customer focus, and challenge,” Baazov said. “These values are ingrained in the DNA of the company’s staff located across the globe, led by Rational’s deep, experienced executive and leadership teams. We intend for Rational to maintain this culture and will support its initiatives to continue growing this world-class business.”

Takeover Ahead of Schedule

The purchase was completed fairly rapidly, occurring just days after Amaya’s shareholders voted in favor of the takeover, as well as the financing required to fund it. In last week’s special meeting, shareholders also approved a change in the name of the company, changing the Amaya Gaming Group to Amaya Inc., a move designed to better reflect how the company is referred to by the public.

That meeting occurred the week after Amaya announced that they had received all necessary regulatory approvals to move ahead with the acquisition. Ultimately, the deal was completed well ahead of initial projections that suggested the takeover might occur in September.

Amaya plans to return PokerStars and Full Tilt to markets where those brands have not been allowed access, particularly those in the United States. In jurisdictions like New Jersey, the removal of the Scheinbergs was a key element in potentially allowing those brands to earn regulatory approval. However, Rational Group founder and CEO Mark Scheinberg said that he expects the company to continue to grow even without his leadership.

“While myself and other founders are departing, we are happy to see the business and the brands we have developed, along with the teams behind them, transferred to strong new ownership,” Scheinberg said. “I’m confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group’s leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future.”

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