In the latest and largest to date acquisition of an online gaming company by private equity, Europe’s biggest private equity firm has acquired 80% of Sky Bet for as much as £720 million (about $1.13 billion). The deal consists of a £600 million cash payment and the balance in contingencies later on. Sky will retain about 20% of the company and continue to build their TV network.
Sky Bet came onto the scene in 2001 and accepts online and mobile bets on sports, racing, casino games, bingo and poker. Reports are that the management team will stay on to keep the company on course and focused on gambling. Sky (formerly British Sky Broadcasting) will focus on building a pan-European satellite pay TV network. Recent moves in that direction include a 87.45% stake in German satellite provider Sky Deutschland, and earlier Sky Italia.
Other huge deals this year include the “out of nowhere” coup by Amaya to buy Poker kings Full Tilt and PokerStars with a billion dollar investment from Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm. Apollo Global Management and TPG have invested nearly half a billion dollars in Caesars Acquisition Company (the online arm of Caesars). Listed companies have been busy as well with GTECH acquiring industry leader IGT of Las Vegas and Scientific Games buying American game manufacturer and online provider WMS.