Tuesday saw online gaming firm Amaya hold its annual general meeting (AGM) behind closed doors as it continued to evaluate takeover offers including one headed by its under-investigation former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David Baazov.
The gathering of top Amaya executives and shareholders was the first since the Canadian company’s previous boss was charged with insider trading by Quebec regulators in March and saw the firm behind online poker operator PokerStars elect Paul McFeeters and Merrill Lynch veteran Alfred Hurley to its board of director in place of Baazov and ex-Chief Financial Officer Daniel Sebag.
Despite excluding the media and non-shareholders from its AGM, Eric Hollreiser, spokesperson for Montreal-based Amaya, told the Toronto Star newspaper that the company has nothing to hide.
“We’re treating it the way we feel is appropriate for shareholders this year,” Hollreiser told the newspaper.
Baazov is Toronto-listed Amaya’s largest stockholder with more than 24.5 million shares, which represents nearly 17% of its circulating stock, and is on an indefinite paid leave of absence as he faces five charges including the influencing or attempt to influence the market price of the company’s shares and communicating privileged information relating to the firm’s $4.9 billion acquisition of PokerStars and sister online poker domain Full Tilt from Oldford Group in 2014.
The Autorite Des Marches Financiers regulator alleges that Baazov, who did not stand for re-election at the recent AGM, was one of 14 people that used their access to information to reap nearly $1.15 million in illicit profits from stock trades. Those charged include Baazov’s brother with the cases scheduled to go before a Quebec court on September 7.
“It’s an interesting time for this company,” Jason Ader, Chief Executive Officer for New York-based SpringOwl Asset Management, told the National Post newspaper as he left the meeting. “It’s got great assets, controversy, a lot of value and a dominant business.”
Baazov, who also attended the AGM, teamed up with a group of unnamed investors in late-January to propose taking the company private in a $2.15 billion all-cash deal that values each share at $14.98, which represents a 40% premium.
“I’m just a shareholder of the company in support of management,” Baazov told the National Post upon leaving the AGM.
The controversy has seemingly not hurt Amaya as the company recently passed 100 million customers while 2015 saw it earn $183.67 million off of revenues of $1.05 billion, which represented a vast improvement on the previous year’s overall loss of $5.76 million from $425.51 million in revenues.