Amaya CEO, investor group looking to take online poker company private

MONTREAL -- Amaya's chairman and CEO is looking to take the world's largest online poker company private about 18 months after it acquired PokerStars for US$4.9 billion.

See Full Article

David Baazov and a group of investors announced Monday their interest in paying $21 per share in cash, 40 per cent above Friday's closing price.

"The particular form and structure of the transaction have not been determined, and no discussions have commenced between Mr. Baazov and Amaya with respect to any particular transaction," said a news release issued in Baazov's name.

It said there is no guarantee that a transaction will proceed or be concluded. A similar statement issued by the company's board of directors said a committee of independent directors would review any formal offers by Baazov or others.

The announcements prompted a surge in Amaya's stock price, which peaked Monday at $19.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange -- the most since Dec. 24. In later trading, Amaya (TSX:AYA) stock fell back to close up $3.01 or 20 per cent at $18.

Baazov owns about 18.6 per cent of the 132.78 million outstanding shares of Amaya and has options to purchase 550,000 more shares.

Amaya as a whole would be worth $2.79 billion at the suggested purchase price, including the stock and options that Baazov already owns.

The company's stock hasn't recovered since plunging from above $31 in early November after it lowered its financial expectations for 2015.

Over the last 52 weeks, they have fallen from a peak of $37.52 about a year ago to a low of $13.73 last week.

The company's board has set up a special committee, headed by lead independent director Dave Gadhia, to review any formal proposal brought forward by Baazov and any other alternatives.

Amaya, which owns PokerStars and various other online gaming businesses, didn't provide a reason for Baazov's proposal. Amaya and Baazov declined requests for comment.

Maher Yaghi of Desjardins Capital Markets said the offer is below his fundamental valuation of $28.50 per share.

"While some could see the offer as potentially being opportunistic, it is worth pointing out that the continued strength in the U.S. dollar is a potential headwind for the company's European poker business," he wrote in a report.

The analyst also said Amaya's high debt in an environment of increasing interest rates is another factor for shareholders to consider.

Amaya transformed its business in the summer of 2014 when it bought Oldford Group, parent company of the Rational Group, which operates PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Its poker brands have 97 million registered players around the world.

Trading activity surrounding the deal came under scrutiny by Quebec's securities regulator in December 2014 but no allegations have been made by Autorite des marches financiers, which declines to comment.

Amaya has said it has discovered no evidence of wrongdoing by its employees.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Calgary and Saint John mayors urge NEB to reverse Energy East pipeline ruling

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Mayors from both ends of the proposed Energy East pipeline are calling for the National Energy Board to reverse its requirement that upstream and downstream emissions be included in its review of the $15.7-billion conduit. Source
  • Lawsuit tossed against Little Caesars over non-halal pepperoni

    Economic CTV News
    DETROIT -- A judge has rejected a lawsuit against a pizza franchise, alleging it sold pork as "halal pepperoni" at one of its locations in a Detroit suburb. The Detroit Free Press reports that on Thursday the Wayne County judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by Dearborn resident Mohamad Bazzi against Little Caesars Pizza. Source
  • Walmart testing service that delivers right into customers' fridges

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Would you be OK with letting a stranger into your house for the sake of convenience? Walmart is testing the idea with a new service that lets a delivery person walk into your home when you're not there to drop off packages or put groceries in the fridge. Source
  • Quebec renews Uber's permit for another year with tighter rules

    Economic CTV News
    Quebec's transportation minister is renewing a deal allowing ride-hailing company Uber to operate for another year in the province. Laurent Lessard says the deal extension tightens the rules under which the San Francisco-based company will be permitted to continue offering its services to Quebecers. Source
  • Canadian firm applies to build $10-billion Jordan Cove LNG project in Oregon

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- The Canadian company whose proposal to build an LNG export terminal in Oregon was derailed by U.S. regulators last year has resubmitted its application for a bigger, more expensive project. Calgary-based Veresen Inc. Source
  • OPEC says winning battle to end oil glut

    Economic CBC News
    OPEC and other oil producers are clearing a glut that has weighed on crude prices for three years and may wait until January before deciding whether to extend their output curbs beyond the first quarter of 2018, ministers said on Friday. Source
  • Mastermind Toys ramps up expansion even as Toys "R" Us flounders

    Economic CBC News
    Jon Levy's favourite playthings as a Toronto child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s included Lego blocks and fort-building kits — classics that still fly off the shelves of his Mastermind Toy stores today. "My true innovation in this business is being able to get inside my inner kid and determine whether it is something truly fun to play with," said Levy, the chain's co-founder, CEO and chief toy merchant. Source
  • Ontario signs formal agreement to join Quebec-California carbon market in 2018

    Economic CTV News
    QUEBEC -- Ontario has formally signed an agreement to join Quebec and California's cap-and-trade system on Jan. 1, 2018. The province has been running its own system this year aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, with three sell-out auctions in a row. Source
  • Angry French famer block Champs-Elysees in pesticide protest

    Economic CTV News
    PARIS -- Angry French farmers are blocking Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in a protest against the government's agricultural policy. Sections of the normally pristine avenue were smothered in straw as about a hundred demonstrators brandished placards such as "Macron is killing farmers" and stopped morning traffic from passing Friday along the busy artery. Source
  • Angry French farmers block Champs-Elysees in pesticide protest

    Economic CTV News
    PARIS -- Angry French farmers are blocking Paris' famed Champs-Elysees in a protest against the government's agricultural policy. Sections of the normally pristine avenue were smothered in straw as about a hundred demonstrators brandished placards such as "Macron is killing farmers" and stopped morning traffic from passing Friday along the busy artery. Source