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The auction to buy Bwin.party Digital Entertainment is heating up. GVC Holdings, 888 Holdings, and Amaya Gaming Inc., have joined the bidding war. When the gavel drops, online poker will look very different indeed.

It’s been an interesting few days for iGaming enthusiasts. Just before the weekend arrived the UK listed online gambling operator, GVC Holdings, created a spike in bwin share price after declaring their intention to acquire the firms share capital in a reverse takeover bid.

GVC Bid Complicated, Requires Shareholder Approval

A statement from GVC Holdings declared: “If the proposed transaction were to complete, it would be treated as a reverse takeover due to the size of bwin.party relative to the company and, in order for the proposed transaction to proceed, it would require, inter alia, the approval of GVC shareholders.”

GVC Holdings have acquisition form. In 2012, they teamed up with William Hill to acquire the Australian online gambling outfit Sportingbet.

Bwin confirmed that GVC Holdings had submitted a bid in the following statement: “Further to the increase in the Company’s share price earlier today and speculation in the media, the Board of bwin.party reconfirms that it is continuing its discussions with a number of third parties and has received revised proposals (including from GVC Holdings PLC) regarding a variety of possible business combinations. There can be no guarantee that these discussions will result in any transaction being completed and a further update will be given in due course.”

888 Holdings Join the Fight

888 Holdings is one of those ‘third parties.’ Over the weekend, news emerged that 888 had also made their own reverse takeover bid.

“The board believes that there is significant industrial logic in a combination of 888 and bwin.party, benefiting both companies and all shareholders and accordingly, has submitted a proposal regarding the acquisition of the entire issued and to be issued share capital of bwin.party for consideration comprising cash and 888 shares,” said 888 in a statement.”

888 Holdings – themselves an acquisition target by William Hill earlier this year – offered to buy the struggling outfit for an undisclosed sum in cash and shares. The move would be subject to 888-shareholder approval.

Then it got even more interesting.

In a Twist, GVC and Amaya Make Joint Bid

This morning, The Telegraph broke the news that GVC Holdings had reacted by teaming up with Amaya Gaming to create a joint bid, designed to fend off the attention of 888 Holdings, worth €1.5bn (consisting of cash and GVC shares).

GVC has an estimated market value of $440 million, and Amaya Gaming around $3.6 billion, removing the need for the reverse takeover. If the deal is successful it’s believed Amaya Gaming would take the online poker, and casino business leaving the rest to GVC.

If the joint GVC/Amaya deal were successful, this would create interesting ripples throughout the online poker world and beyond. When PokerStars purchased Full Tilt Poker in 2012, the sites didn’t merge, leaving the door open for the potential of the partypoker skin to continue ad-hoc. The other interesting point would be the future of the World Poker Tour (WPT). PokerStars have their very successful European Poker Tour (EPT), and one imagines the two could merge with the word ‘European’ being dropped for the more encompassing appropriate ‘World’.

Interested times indeed.

Bwin are currently ruminating over the various offers.

Lee Davy

Life can be viewed as the sum of the parts or the parts themselves. I believe in the holistic view of life, or the sum. When dealing with individual parts you develop whack-a-mole syndrome; each time you clobber one problem with your hammer another one just pops up.

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