Could Amaya Takeover Bid Signal More Changes at PokerStars?

February 1st, 2016 | by Kaycee James
David Baazov makes Amaya bid

Could there be more changes ahead at PokerStars following David Baazov’s takeover bid for Amaya? (Image: Nicolas Godin)

David Baazov, the CEO of PokerStars parent Amaya Inc., is putting together a bid, along with an investor group, to buy out Amaya for CAN$4.39 billion ($3.13 billion) from shareholders and make it a private company once more.

The Canadian iGaming company boss says his CAN$21 ($15) per share offer is almost CAN$3 more than this week’s premarket trading value of CAN$18 ($12.88).

PokerStars Could Become Private

At present, Amaya is a publicly traded company, and Baazov currently owns 24.6 million common shares and a further 550,000 options.

Backed by a collection of private investors, a successful bid remove Amaya from the stock market and make it a private company again. And some experts agree that it’s a wise move for Baazov and friends.

Manish Grigo, an analyst at Global Maxfin Capital, believes it’s a good move and that it won’t take long for Baazov to recoup his investment. PokerStars’ impending move into New Jersey, coupled with the possibility of online poker legislation passing in California at some point in 2016, could provide Amaya with a significant cash boost, according to Grigo.

Although PokerStars has already been granted a license in New Jersey, there’s no guarantee it would get the same treatment if California were to regulate online poker. Ongoing battles between various factions, such as Indian tribes, cardrooms, and pro- and anti-online lobbyists, have made the issue of a PokerStars reentry into the Golden State a hotly contested one, and that’s even assuming everyone can come together to approve online legislation at all.

Potential Positives and Negatives for Players

From a practical standpoint, it’s unclear how a takeover by Baazov would affect PokerStars players on a day-to-day basis.

But if Amaya is delisted from the stock exchange, it would mean Baazov could enact sweeping changes without having to get the approval of shareholders. According to CEO of the Global Poker Index, Alex Dreyfus, this could be a positive thing.

As someone known for taking risks (he’s currently in the middle of launching a new TV streaming tournament concept known as the Global Poker League), Dreyfus believes Amaya as a private entity could potentially benefit the company, players, and the industry as a whole.

“Innovation and growth need investment and taking risks. PokerStars has enough funds to invest, but had the obligation to show analysts immediate return,” wrote Dreyfus.

Therefore, without the shackles of shareholders weighing him down, Baazov could dramatically alter the complexion of PokerStars for the better if his bid is accepted.

“I can sense that with this financial move, David Baazov will re-invigorate the poker landscape,” concluded Dreyfus.


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