In a press release on Monday, David Baazov, chairman and chief executive officer of Montreal-based Amaya Inc, announced a plan for a takeover proposal of the company that owns Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars.
Baazov is “in discussions” with an unnamed group of investors who have prepared an all-cash C$21 ($14.98) per share offer, to acquire full-ownership of Amaya, worth an estimated $2.5 billion, according to the media release. The offer represents a 40 percent premium to the company’s closing price on Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Currently, 24.6 million common shares of Amaya are owned by Baazov, with options to buy 550,000 more shares. In what is interpreted by the market as a sign that the potential C$21 offer is too low, in early trading on Monday in Toronto, Amaya’s shares soared to $19, more than 27 percent then back down to $18.00, or 20 percent. While Amaya has already decided to establish a special committee to evaluate the offer from Baazov as well as any other similar takeover attempt, the company also explained that there is no assurance that Baazov’s interest will result in a formal bid.
The unprecedented move comes less than two years after PokerStars and Full Tilt were purchased for $4.9 billion by Amaya from the Rational Group. Meanwhile the company is implementing a new strategy that includes a complete overhaul of PokerStars’ VIP system, the launch of a sports betting platform and online casino, for which it received licensing approval to operate in the state of New Jersey last year, as well as a Daily Fantasy Sports brand. While a specific date has yet to be set, the company plans on launching the first half of the year.
Relatively unknown until the June 2014 acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, Amaya also owns BetStars, the Latin American Poker Tour, StarsDraft, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Asia Pacific Poker Tour, and the European Poker Tour. Since the purchase of Amaya Gaming the company has stayed in the news, especially with it facing the largest insider-trading investigation in Canadian history. The company has stated that the probe does not relate to personal trading by Amaya’s chief financial officer Daniel Sebag or Baazov.