Ladbrokes owner Entain offers $ 1 billion for Baltic NBA betting partner

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(Bloomberg) – UK betting company Entain Plc is pursuing its takeover of Olympic Entertainment Group, one of the Baltic region’s largest gambling companies, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

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Entain has made an indicative offer in recent weeks of more than $ 1 billion for the Estonian company, which operates casinos and online gambling sites in the region, according to people, who have asked not to. be identified because the information is private.

Olympic is one of the few remaining assets in the portfolio of London-based Novalpina Capital, which owns NSO Group, developer of the controversial spyware Pegasus which has been criticized for its use by autocratic governments to spy on journalists and activists.

The private equity firm collapsed earlier this year amid a scuffle between its three founders, and its investors voted to transfer management of the fund’s remaining holdings to Berkeley Research Group.

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A sale could help backers of the old Novalpina fund recoup their entire investment with a profit, the people said. This is even before selling its other remaining stakes: NSO, the French specialized pharmaceutical company Laboratoire XO and a portfolio of debts.

The deliberations are ongoing and there is no certainty that they will result in a transaction, the people said. A representative for Entain declined to comment. Olympic and Berkeley Research Group spokespersons could not be reached immediately for comment.

Entain acquired Swedish games company Enlabs AB earlier this year to expand in the Baltic states and could see cost savings with a new deal in the region.

Olympic has operations in countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Italy. The company, which Novalpina bought in 2018 for around 288 million euros ($ 325 million), has grown through acquisitions that have helped it expand into markets such as Romania and Croatia.

It operates online gambling sites under the OlyBet and MaxBet brands and owns more than 100 casinos by the end of 2020, according to the Olympic website. The company’s properties include the Olympic Voodoo Casino in the Latvian capital of Riga, which it claims is the largest of the Baltic states. It is also the official betting partner of the US National Basketball Association in several markets.

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The total price of Entain’s proposal includes an upfront payment to acquire Olympic’s online business and operations in Lithuania and Croatia, as well as an additional price payable in early 2023 based on performance, have people said.

Entain is also looking for an option to buy Olympic’s remaining operations in other countries in early 2023, people say. He offered to inject cash into that part of the business before buying those assets, in return for concessions from bondholders, including an extension of debt maturity, they said.

A deal would add to an ongoing frenzy of deals among betting companies. Gambling software developer Playtech Plc is currently the target of a potential bidding war. Entain itself has been the target of two takeover attempts. DraftKings Inc. waived a potential $ 22.4 billion deal last month and MGM Resorts International attempted to buy Entain earlier this year for $ 11 billion.

Entain is a serial acquirer. The company, formerly known as GVC Holdings Plc, was incorporated through agreements including the buyout of Ladbrokes Coral Group Plc concluded in 2017 and the purchase of Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc signed in 2015.

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