In a battle that has seemed to some to see board approval of both bidders, GVC Holdings Plc is raising its bid for Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc in an attempt to wrest a final approval from the board and beat 888 Holdings Plc for a chance at bwin.party shareholders’ final approval.
GVC announced on Friday that they have upped their bid to 125.5p (about US$1.94) per share. The company had already bid more than rival 888 who were the latest to see a green light, but bwin.party board spokesmen indicated in endorsing the 888 offer that certain synergies and stability were built-in and that accepting the 888 offer held less risk and more certainty for investors.
GVC is said to be working with the board to help evaluate their current offer and hopes to have an answer within 10 working days. The total offer is worth 1.03 billion pounds (US$1.6 billion) and would be backed by Cerberus Capital Management, a U.S. private equity firm.
Activist investor Jason Ader, who is one of the top five investors in bwin.party through control of SpringOwl Asset Management, said on July 28 that GVC would need to bump their offer by around 14%, which would amount to over 135p per share, in order to get shareholders back to the table. Even at 125.5p, enough discord could be created to get 888 to offer incentives to stay in the fight according to some analysts.
According to Bloomberg Business, bwin.party has said that they are working with GVC to evaluate the latest bid, but they haven’t changed their recommendation to accept the 888 offer. Bwin.party and 888 are both based in Gibraltar and 888 currently provides the platform for bwin.party online casino games.
Isle of Man listed GVC, whose shares have been traded on the AIM (London Stock Exchange) since 2004, runs the Sportingbet and Betboo sites for punters handling about one and a half billion Euros in sports wagers annually. Bwin runs betting sites as well as Partypoker and Partycasino.
Bwin.party CEO, Norbert Teufelberger is said to have been considering a sale since last November. GVC and 888 have shown interest publicly since at least May. In mid July GVC announced an offer of $1.4 billion (£908 million) with backing from Amaya, and bwin.party responded by crowning them “preferred bidder.” Less than a week later it was announced that bwin.party would recommend 888‘s US$1.4 billion (£898.3m) offer to its shareholders.
Although the bwin.party board hasn’t withdrawn that recommendation, activist Ader’s activity may have made it necessary for the battle to go on until the gavel falls and a final offer is presented to shareholders – even then, the fourth largest shareholder could wreak havoc in ways not yet known if his agenda is not satisfied, which presumably, would be to reap the highest value possible for Spring Owl’s shares.