January 31, 2008

Party the ‘prettiest girl’ as Garber talks post-DoJ mergers

PartyGaming chief executive Mitch Garber is “extremely confident” that discussions with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over a financial settlement with regard the company’s previous activities in the US will be concluded before the year is out.

According to Garber, such a resolution could herald a stampede of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity within the sector. “As an industry, once the DoJ situation is cleared, I believe there will be a very busy M&A market,” he said.

He added that as “the leader in online gaming, the most compliant and the most conservative” PartyGaming would be a consolidation target. “I think we are the prettiest girl at the dance,” he concluded.

Garber was speaking at the publication of the gaming giant’s fourth quarter key performance indicators which showed group revenue over the quarter rising 52% to US$120m (£60m) compared with last year. However, poker revenue declined 3% quarter on quarter. The company said this was the result of a restructuring of the groups’ loyalty programme.

In the four weeks since period close, Party said it had seen an improvement in the loyalty scheme situation with the amount of bonuses and PartyPoints deducted from revenue falling from 19% in the fourth quarter to between 14% and 15%.

Poker revenue year on year was up 23% to US$72.6m while casino revenue shot up 156% over the same period in 2006 to US$42.3m. The company said that cross-selling “remained the main source of growth” in this product area. The sports-betting operation, PartyBets, saw revenue rose 50% over the 2006 figure to US$5.1m. PartyBets has been promoted heavily in the UK within the past three months, with a series of adverts appearing on UK TV screens.

There were signs within the statement that PartyGaming was suffering alongside others from a marketing crush in Europe. “Along with a number of competitors, PartyPoker has lost a small amount of market share to those sites that continue to take bets from players located in the US and other countries from which we will not accept players for regulatory reasons,” the statement added.