888 Wins $1.4B Bid for bwin.party; Claims near Monopoly in US Online Poker Market

Confirmed as of this morning, Friday, July 17, 2015, negotiations to acquire bwin.party Digital Entertainment and all of its operations have finally been completed. 888 Holdings has struck a deal with the UK brand to acquire all assets for GBP £900 million (USD $1.4 billion).

888 Buys bwin.party for $1.4bBwin.party put itself on the auction block last year, and has since been courted by several strong suitors. 888 Holdings immediately jumped into negotiations with the digital entertainment group, but was met with opposition from iGaming other giants like Ladbrokes, Playtech and, most notably, PokerStars owner Amaya Gaming, which teamed up with GVC Holdings to submit a higher bid of £908 million earlier this year.

The company confirmed the acquisition in a statement issued today by 888 Holdings.

“The boards of 888 and bwin.party are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement on the terms of a recommended offer pursuant to which [888 Holdings] will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of bwin.party,” read the statement.

Bwin.party shareholders will receive 39.45p apiece for each owned share of bwin.party, paid in cash, plus an additional 0.404 in new shares of 888. Those figures represent a bid 16.4% higher than the value of bwin.party shares prior to the bid’s submission in May.

All told, the value of the takeover is GBP £898.3, or approximately USD $1.4 billion.

After confirming the deal had been struck, Executive Chairman for 888, Brian Mattingley, spoke of the acquisition of bwin.party to Reuters. “We believe the deal creates one of the world’s leading online gaming operators.

“It’s all about scale,” said Mattingley. “When you’ve got critical mass you can ride storms and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.”

Interestingly enough, 888 Holdings was the subject its own takeover bid early this year. Back in January, William Hill, operator of the largest bookmaker in the UK, issued a GBP £750 million (USD $1.14 billion) bid for the company. 888 Holdings rejected the offer, supposedly because the Shaked family, which helped found the company, didn’t think the proposal was high enough to consider selling.

Bwin.party Acquisition Solidifies 888 in US & Europe

Although the brand in significant in several major iGaming markets, the most notable asset of bwin.party is its online poker offering, Party Poker.  Not only will the deal increase 888’s presence internationally, it solidifies 888’s position in the US market.

With all bwin.party assets under its wing, 888 takes over the Party Borgata Network in in New Jersey, where it already operates the state’s other two online poker rooms, WSOP.com and 888Poker. As such, 888 now controls the entire online poker industry in New Jersey and Delaware, as well as the only operator worth mentioning in Nevada, WSOP.com.

Globally, 888 is already the second largest online poker network in the world, averaging 2,300 cash game players on a 7 day average. Once the deal is finalized to take over bwin.party, 888 will control Partypoker.com in Europe, which is currently ranked the 7th larger operator in the world.

Additionally, 888 will recapture several European markets it had previously opted out of, including France via the region’s 3rd largest internet poker operator, Partypoker.fr. 888 will increase its market share in Spain as well, where 888Poker.es is already ranked #2, and Partypoker.es #4.

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