Thursday, 4 December 2014

A revealing question: is Permira also punting on Bwin?

Apologies for a headline that posits a question. The problem is Betaville's best sources are certain Permira is the private equity firm that is taking a look at Digital Entertainment. However, people familiar with the private equity firm have tried to pour cold water on the tale, denying the buy-out shop has any interest in the online gaming company. Talk about awkward.

A quick recap for readers unfamiliar with this particular situation: Bwin confirmed last month it is in talks with various unnamed parties about a potential deal and Deutsche Bank is managing the strategic review.

I guess the market shouldn't be too surprised about the theoretical possibility of Permira having an interest in Bwin as the private equity firm was also reported by the venerable Wall Street Journal to have sniffed around 888 Holdings, another online gaming company, in September. Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal piece:

And it looks like the private equity industry is very keen to get involved in the online gaming sector. This morning BSkyB announced it is selling Sky Bet to CVC Capital Partners for £800 million.  

Perhaps, then, nuance might solve the conundrum? Permira clearly has been weighing making an investment in the online gaming sector and Bwin is potentially for sale. If your a high-flying dealmaker at Permira, I guess there is no harm in taking a "look" at Bwin but that doesn't necessarily mean you will follow through with a formal cash offer (this is just me theorising out loud).  

On another note, I don't want readers to get too carried away about the likelyhood of Bwin actually announcing the completion of a deal. This is because some of my well-placed sources say a "deal" is by no means a certainty and it is quite possible (about 50:50) Bwin will remain listed.

Indeed, Playtech/Teddy Sagi - which I reported earlier in the week was taking a good, hard look at Bwin - may decide a leaderless Ladbrokes (it was announced yesterday that Richard Glynn, CEO, is leaving) is a better acquisition. Well, to be clear I have no visibility on whether Playtech is looking at Ladbrokes right now but I do know the software company was running its slide rule over the business earlier this year.

Let's not forget, Playtech must have seen something in Ladbrokes, whose shares have fallen by 35pc in 2014, as last year it built up a significant stake in the bookmaker. But so far that investment hasn't turned out to be one of Playtech's smartest punts...    

Permira declined to comment.

1 comment:

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