888’s accepted offer is a cash plus shares deal that sees 39.45 pence in cash and 0.404 new 888 shares exchanged per current bwin.party share.
888 said it will fund the cash consideration payable through a new $600 million term loan credit facility.
“The bwin.party directors have concluded, after further work with GVC and its advisers and after careful consideration, that 888’s offer provides a higher degree of certainty for bwin.party shareholders and that GVC’s modest incremental premium to 888’s offer is not sufficient for the bwin.party board to recommend GVC’s proposal over 888’s offer”, the company said. Party for GBP906.5 million last week in a bid backed by Canadian gaming company Amaya Gaming Inc, but two people close to the matter said 888 now looks set to pip GVC to the post, the FT said.
Shares (Frankfurt: DI6.F – news) in 888 were up 6.8 percent by 0845 GMT.
“The deal is strategically compelling for 888 and they look to have secured Bwin.party for a reasonable price and efficient structure”, Nick Batram, an analyst at Peel Hunt in London, said in a note.
The acquisition of bwin.party is expected to be earnings enhancing for 888, excluding one-off costs, in the first full financial year of ownership. GVC teamed with William Hill Plc to take over Sportingbet Plc in 2013.
Panmure Gordon upgraded 888 from “sell” to “hold” following news of the deal, pointing to “the potential for significant synergies, whilst the combined group is likely to be highly cash generative potentially allowing for future shareholder returns”, as quoted by Reuters.
888 had wooed Bwin by arguing that there were strong synergies between the two businesses, including overlap offices in Gibraltar, Israel and Romania and the fact that Bwin’s Foxy Bingo business runs on 888 technology. The boards added that the combination will save at least $70m per annum (before tax) by the end of the 2018 financial year.
Following completion of the offer, bwin.party shareholders will own approximately 48.9 per cent of the issued ordinary share capital of the enlarged group.