The Canadian company that owns the world’s largest online poker site is about to become the world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company. The Stars Group Inc., which owns PokerStars and is listed on the Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange, announced on Saturday it will acquire Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) from CVC Capital Partners and Sky plc in a cash and stock deal worth $4.7 billion.
Additionally, according to a Stars Group press release, the purchase of the UK-based sports betting and online gaming company will result in The Stars Group becoming the world’s largest publicly traded online gaming company.
In fact, The Stars Group Chief Executive Officer Rafi Ashkenazi said the acquisition represents an historic moment for the company:
“The acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming is a landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history. SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers. SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform. The ability to offer two low-cost acquisition channels of this magnitude provides The Stars Group with great growth potential and will significantly increase our ability to create winning moments for our customers.”
Enhancing The Stars Group global brand portfolio
Additionally, Ashkenazi went on to say The Stars Group global brand portfolio will be significantly enhanced through this acquisition, positioning the company to realize its vision of becoming the world’s favorite iGaming destination.
SBG currently operates five core online gaming brands, including:
- Internet sportsbook Sky Bet
- Online casino Sky Vegas
- Online casino Sky Casino
- Internet poker site Sky Poker
- Online bingo site Sky Bingo
The brands have become some of online gaming’s best-known, thanks to a partnership with Sky, Europe’s top sports broadcaster and media company.
In fact, SBG currently hosts the largest active online gaming player base in the world.
SBG CEO Richard Flint said the acquisition will help the company go global:
“We are delighted to join forces with The Stars Group. We have had a fantastic last few years and would like to thank CVC and Sky for supporting us in becoming a leading online operator in the UK. This transaction allows us to offer our best-in-class products to a truly global audience. We’re excited about our future together.”
Private equity and investment advisory firm CVC Capital Partners bought an 80 percent stake in SBG for £600 million back in 2015.
Now, CVC Partner Pev Hooper says this deal represents an opportunity for international growth for SBG:
“Richard and his team have done a fantastic job building Sky Betting & Gaming into one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing operators. We have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the team and our partners at Sky. This combination with The Stars Group opens a new and exciting chapter for SBG to accelerate its international growth, and we look forward to continuing the journey as a shareholder in the combined group.”
The Stars Group operates online gaming brands including:
- PokerStars Casino
- Full Tilt
Moreover, it owns and operates several popular live poker tournament series around the world, including:
- European Poker Tour
- PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
- Latin American Poker Tour
- Asia Pacific Poker Tour
The biggest poker business in the world and growing
In fact, The Stars Group brands collectively form the largest poker business in the world.
Additionally, according to The Stars Group, operational and financial benefits of the SBG acquisition for the company are expected to include:
- Greater revenue diversification and significantly enhanced exposure to sports betting, the world’s largest and fastest growing online gaming segment
- Increased presence in regulated markets, particularly in the UK, the world’s largest regulated online gaming market
- Development of sports betting as a second low-cost customer acquisition channel, complementing The Stars Group’s core poker business and enabling more effective cross-sell to players across multiple verticals
- Improved products and technology with the addition of SBG’s casino, sportsbook and mobile apps
- Cost synergies of at least $70 million per year
SBG takes on 20 percent Stars Group ownership
Some $3.6 billion of the $4.7 billion total purchase price will be payable in cash. However, the remainder is payable in approximately 37.9 million newly-issued common shares.
In fact, that means SBG will be taking on an estimated 20 percent ownership interest in The Stars Group.
The Stars Group’s Board of Directors has already unanimously approved the transaction. However, the deal is not likely to close until the third quarter of 2018.