Kindred Group Plc (formerly Unibet) is set to take over rival 32Red Plc in the latest move in an industry beset with consolidation. The deal is for GBP175.6 million ($219 million) or 196 pence per share, a 16% premium on 32Red’s close before the offer was made public. The company’s stock has risen sharply over the last few weeks amid speculation of a takeover.
Kindred said in a statement Thursday that the offer is 40% over the average 3-month stock price. The purchase will be funded with debt. According to a Bloomberg report last week, about 71% of 32Red shareholders have agreed to the deal which will not be valid until 75% have signed on.
32Red has long been seen as a target for takeover, and players have noticed a major change in the company’s premiums, promotions, and enhancements over the last two years or so. Included in the deal in addition to 32Red Casino are 32Red Sport, 32Red Bingo, 32Red Poker, Roxy Palace, Casino Splendido, Golden Lounge, Nedplay, and Dash Casino.
Kindred Group Chief Executive Officer Henrik Tjaernstroem said on a conference call, “We’re optimistic we will be over 75 percent in a short space of time,” according to reports.
32Red has always enjoyed a stellar reputation for honesty, transparency, and fairness among players. Kindred’s last acquisition occurred when Unibet bought Sports Betting, Casino, Games and Poker operator Stan James in 2015.
As the licensing conditions, regulatory fees and taxes have increased dramatically, especially in the UK market, companies have needed more size in order to trudge along or elbow to the top as smaller concerns simply can’t handle the critical mass.
By late 2015 there had been some $12.9bn in M&A deals, the highest in a decade with customer money moving online adding to the reasons for consolidation. In August 2015 Paddy Power placed GBP2.9 billion ($4.4 billion) to take over Betfair Group. Ladbrokes and Gala Coral is another mega-merger of note as were Intertain’s acquisition of Jackpot Joy and GVC’s take down of rival 888 to control bwin.party in a deal worth more than a billion pounds.
And while not all of the big moves work out over time, there was a moment when Amaya Gaming Group Inc. became the largest publicly held online gambling company in the world after their 2014 acquisition of PokerStars for $4.9 billion. Of course Amaya stock price nearly doubled on the news and eventually Amaya Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Baazov and other faced charges of inside trading.
The acquisition of 32Red will give Kindred a well established and respected online casino with peripherals and a solid place in the UK market so they won’t be so dependent on Sweden. It also opens the doors for 32Red in the Netherlands with established clientele.
32Red’s Ed Ware noted in a press release that the two companies have always had similar business philosophies and the companies are looking forward to a successful joint venture. There have been no statements to date indicating whether or not Ware would be staying on with the company he built after leaving Ladbrokes in 2002.