Bwin.party Holding Out for Best and Final from GVC Before Accepting Acquisition Proposal

August 27th, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
Bwin.party GVC best and final offer

Sex sells, and so does bwin.party: but who will be the ultimate buyer, GVC or 888? (Image: standard.co.uk)

The bwin.party takeover fight between GVC and 888 has been ongoing since last spring, but the online gaming company being targeted is tired of the games, this week asking GVC to present its best and final offer.

Since last May, GVC has thrown multiple options on the table for bwin.party including one in conjunction with PokerStars parent Amaya, but after being upstaged by 888 in late July, the company increased its bid to £1 billion ($1.55 billion) to once again regain the frontrunner position.

On Thursday, bwin requested that GVC make its last proposal.

“Bwin.party has now asked GVC to clarify, with respect to its proposal, the best terms on which GVC is prepared to make a formal offer to acquire all of the issued and to be issued shares in bwin.party,” a company press release stated.

GVC Odds-On Favorite

The race for Bwin has gone from a 100-meter dash to a marathon, but GVC, the early leader out of the gates, has managed to pace itself and reclaim its position as the leading candidate.

Last month, 888 Holdings had seemingly hijacked the deal from GVC when it made a £900 million pound ($1.47 billion at the time) pitch. Bwin’s board was unanimous in recommending the company accept the offer, but one entity that didn’t accept the deal was that of GVC.

The London-based company that already owns Sportingbet, Casino Club, and Betboo reentered the negotiating room by upping the ante to $1.55 billion. Bwin responded by saying, “Of course the board will consider it against 888’s current offer.”

After signaling that there were concerns with the offer, bwin revealed this week that those issues “have now been addressed to bwin.party’s satisfaction,” which means a completed deal could be coming in the near future. The bwin board says it will give a further update on September 1st.

Bwin Bluffing

Though bwin.party had accepted in principle a lesser offer from 888, earlier this month the company’s largest shareholder, Jason Ader, said GVC’s proposal was “just enough to have a conversation.” But the SpringOwl Asset Management hedge fund owner has good reason to bluff: he wants the best valuation possible for his 825 million shares in bwin.

It appears likely that bwin will soon be acquired by GVC, and with the offer valuing each ordinary share of the company at 124 pence, Ader stands to make 10 pence (15¢) per share, considering Bwin is currently trading around 114p on the London Stock Exchange. That translates into about a $124 million payday, not bad seeing as the US market has been in a perpetual state of fluctuation as of recently.

The expected partnership between bwin and GVC is just the latest in a string of recent iGaming mergers. Ladbrokes and Gala Coral joined forces last month, and this week, sportsbook and online gaming sites Paddy Power and Betfair united.

“Market correction not hurting Internet Gaming valuations as Paddy Power and Betfair agree. Stocks soar,” Ader tweeted on Wednesday.

His portfolio will also be soaring once GVC and bwin sign on the dotted line, assuming 888 doesn’t re-up in this ongoing game of bwin No-Limit Hold’em.

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