Pokerstars buys Full Tilt Poker (FTP) and its assets in a deal with the U.S department of justice (DoJ)
It’s been unofficially announced by a widespread number of credible sources that industry giants Pokerstars have completed the purchase of Full Tilt Poker for $750m. This includes a $330m settlement with the U.S department of justice and the full return of player balances. We do not yet know exactly how this deal will be formatted, but Pokerstars have confirmed that settlement discussions with the DoJ are ongoing, presumably in order to work out the finer details of the deal.
PokerUpdate has received information from credible sources at Full Tilt offices in Cherry Wood, Dublin that PokerStars have indeed purchased the Full Tilt assets.
The story all began when a forum thread appeared on TwoPlusTwo (the world’s largest poker forum) early on the 24th April, entitled: ‘Big News: PokerStars Purchases FTP(?)’
At first the thread was initially removed as unsubtantiated gossip, that was until respected forum moderator ‘NoahSD’ reported that various inside sources contacted him asking to ‘undelete’ the thread. Since then, various people have tweeted the news and no Stars representatives have come forward denying the takeover, which is what you would expect had the news been nonsense.
Group Bernard Tapie, who for months were expected to complete the takeover of FTP, have insinuated external sabotage over negotiations.
GBT STATEMENT: Please see the bottom of this article for a full statement recently released by GBT on the situation from their point of view.
Laurent Tapie confirms deal is off for FTP buyout and insinuates external sabotage over DOJ negotiations. These are rumours with no credible sources at this time.
Tom Victor at EGR reported GBT as saying “our efforts to obtain final DoJ approval to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker have ended without success”
The news comes as shock to the poker community after months of speculation and almost certainty that GBT would be the ones completing the takeover of Full Tilt Poker.
Power play by Stars
This takeover is a powerful statement of intent from Pokerstars that they fully intend to cement their current market dominance outside of the U.S in anticipation of wide-spread American inter-state legislation later this year.
We can only speculate as to how the major competitors (namely Bwin.Party at 888) will react to this news which has rocked the poker community and gaming industry.
Statement from Group Bernard Tapie:
“Groupe Bernard Tapie regrets to announce that, after seven months of intensive work, our efforts to obtain final approval of the United States Department of Justice of the agreement to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker have ended without success.
Ultimately, the deal failed due to two major issues.
The parties could not agree on a plan for repayment of ROW players.
GBT proposed a plan that would have resulted in immediate reinstatement of all ROW player balances, with a right to withdraw those funds over time, based on the size of the player balance and the extent of the player’s playing activity on the re-launched site. All players would have been permitted complete withdrawal of their balances, regardless of whether they played on the site, by a date certain, and 94.9% of ROW players would have been fully repaid on day 1. DOJ ultimately insisted on full repayment with right of withdrawal within 90 days for all players– a surprise demand made in the 11th hour, after months of good-faith negotiations by GBT.
The legal complications surrounding the deal – specifically, questions surrounding the legality of the forfeiture under non-US laws – also proved unresolvable.
All of the key assets of the FTP companies reside outside of the United States. A non-US court well might regard the purported forfeiture as a “fraudulent transaction” and declare it invalid or deem the acquirer of the assets responsible for all of those creditor obligations.
Given the $80 million purchase price, and the substantial amount of cash needed to relaunch FTP, those issues ultimately proved too substantial to overcome.
GBT is very conscious of the hopes it has created – among FTP employees that they will retain their jobs, among FTP players that they will recover their balances, and among the entire poker community that the world’s finest poker platform will be relaunched and bring a needed added element of competition to a world market that today is fully dominated by a single operator.
GBT cannot accept the end of those hopes.
For that reason, unless a concrete and legally viable solution is found in the very coming days to save the employees and repay the players of FTP, we will move to our own plan of action.
We understand from press reports that the DOJ may have entered into an agreement with PokerStars pursuant to which PokerStars will acquire the FTP assets. If accurate, we can only assume that PokerStars determined that it was willing to accept these legal and financial risks in order to resolve its own legal situation with DOJ. If a PokerStars acquisition of FTP means that all FTP players will be fully repaid immediately, we are very happy for the players, as their final and full repayment has always been our priority.
We only regret that such a deal would signal further consolidation of a poker market already dominated by a single player – an outcome that may raise antitrust concerns and that, in the long run, is probably not good for players and for the whole online poker industry.”
More to come on this story as it breaks….