Bwin Party’s Billion Dollar Bid War

The storm is yet to settle in the online gambling industry, and all this came up after a Gibraltar-based online gambling firm, Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment started fielding multiple takeover bids. Bwin.Party owns two popular brands namely World Poker Tour and PartyPoker. Bwin.Party and PartyPoker merged in 2011.
On one side of the storm is 888 Holdings Public Limited Company, an online gambling website involved in the provision of online casino games through 888casino. 888 Holdings also uses other sub-brands and mobile devices for online download and play.

On the other side is GVC Holdings, a business-to-business and business-to-consumer organization involved in the provision of sports betting markets and online gaming. In 2013, GVC Holdings teamed up with the industry’s juggernaut William Hill Public Limited Company to take over Sportingbet Public Limited Company.
The two entities mentioned above know the gambling business far too well; the domain they are now entering into is very risky even for them. The two organizations have brewed a bidding battle where the price tag is ever escalating.

This war of bids is not easy to comprehend. At first, it was announced that 888 Holdings was the winner of a $1.4 billion bidding battle for Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment. All this was taking place about two months ago, and it seemed clear that 888 Holdings had finalized the acquisition of Bwin.Party for a mixture of stock and cash.

There were several executives quoted saying the deal was sealed, one of them being Jason Ader, the second largest shareholder of Bwin.Party. Jason said that he believed 888 Holdings was not only the best buyer for Bwin.Party, but also the company with the best management team that was going to achieve long-term synergy value for the firm’s shareholders with little friction when it comes to regulatory risk and execution.

A few days later, it seemed like the $1.4 billion bid 888 Holdings had sealed the deal with was no longer accepted as it was not sufficient to close the deal. GVC Holdings then came in with a $1.6 billion proposal in a bid to acquire Bwin.Party and void the agreement made by 888 Holdings.

888 Holdings believed their $1.4 billion agreement was valid and binding. GVC Holdings’ bid was also a mixture of stock and cash, just as 888 Holdings had offered, but theirs was at a heightened price.
A few days later, GVC Holdings raised its bid in an effort to persuade Bwin.Party to come to its side. GVC Holdings has the backup of a U.S. private equity organization known as Cerberus Capital Management. The bidding war does not seem to have an end date in the near future, and everyone is wondering who GVC Holdings is bidding against.

GVC Holdings has actively attempted to raise the price for Bwin.Party; it has even resorted to what looks like negotiating against itself by pushing up the bid without the introduction of a new or higher competing bid. While all this is going on, the fact remains that Bwin.Party struck a prior deal with 888 Holdings.

If 888 Holdings came up with an offer and presented it to Bwin.Party and it accepted the offer, then, unless there is no closing condition present in the agreement, it is not likely that Bwin.Party could back out without breaching the terms of the agreement. GVC Holdings may be presenting itself as a threat to the bid made by 888 Holdings, but if Bwin.Party cannot back out of its lighter priced deal, then, it may also be bound by the same.
The only thing one can pick from the high-stakes takeover bid for the assets of Bwin.Party is that there exists a confusing web of statements. These statements contradict each other, and they may cause Bwin.Party’s final purchase price to be more than what 888 Holdings envisioned on paying.
The parties involved are expected to hold negotiations over the next couple of weeks. It is clear that 888 Holdings is going to push forth rhetoric stating how a deal is a deal, and that GVC Holdings cannot get into a race after the winner of the race has been chosen. However, Bwin is not paying a lot of attention to the rumbling as it is busy engaging in discussions with GVC Holdings while bid prices increase on a weekly basis.

There are allegations raised by GVC Holdings and Bwin.Party claiming that the prior deal involving 888 Holdings had not been concluded. A report from July had a note that explained how 888 Holdings had purchased Bwin.Party. The note explained how the boards of the two entities, 888 Holdings, and Bwin.Party were pleased to announce that they had come up with a deal with 888 Holdings on the terms of their recommended offer of $1.4 billion pursuant to which they would entirely acquire Bwin.Party and be issued with Bwin.Party’s ordinary share capital.

Finally, it may come down to whether a deal on a recommended offer is valid and binding regarding a transaction of over one billion dollars. In the meantime, the storm is yet to settle on the war of bids. 888 Holdings believes it has a deal in place while GVC Holdings continues to escalate the prices.

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