August 21, 2013

CVC buys Skrill (Moneybookers) for 600 millions euros

It is CVC’s third major move in a week following its £750m acquisition of the white goods insurer Domestic & General and the announcement of exclusive talks to buy parts of the European business of Campbell Soup.

Skrill was formerly known as Moneybookers and processes payments for online retailers, gambling websites and media companies. Investcorp said it reported revenues of more than €200m last year and EBITDA of €50m.

CVC’s acquisition of a 75 percent stake in Skrill will be funded with around €250m of equity as well as debt financing provided by Credit Suisse, RBS and Jefferies. Investcorp, which invested €105m for a controlling stake in Skrill in 2007, will retain a “substantial minority position” and a seat on the board.

The Bahraini Group put Skrill up for sale by Barclays earlier this year following rapid growth and the acquisition last year of from Wertkarten, an Austrian provider of prepaid vouchers that enable consumers to shop online with a lower fraud risk, for €140m. The company now employs some 700 staff and boasts 35 million account holders, and 150,000 merchants. It competes with the eBay-owned digital wallet provider PayPal and Google Checkout, among others.

The company’s management team will remain in place folowing completion of the deal, which is subject to approval by regulators.

Skrill chief executive Siegfried Heimgaertner said: “We are delighted to have CVC on-board whilst retaining Investcorp as a significant investor.

“CVC’s global reach and experience will support our goal to become the first choice in payments on a global basis. The value-based transformation we began in 2012 will continue unabated through this year and into 2014.”

CVC senior managing director Peter Rutland said it would support Skrill’s international expansion plans. The company had planned to raise funding in a flotation but abandoned the idea in 2011 amid concern about the weak IPO market.

August 15, 2013

Zynga cuts senior roles in company

EO of Zynga Don Mattrick has announced the company are reducing layers of senior management by removing Chief Operations Officer David Ko, The Head of Human Resources Colleen McCreary and Chief Technology Officer Cadir Lee, in a major reshuffle of senior heads.

Mattrick who was appointed new CEO last month, replacing founder of Zynga Mark Pincus as the new boss and charged with helping to turn around the fortunes of the once great online social gaming company.

He has a giant task ahead of him with shares in Zynga sliding 71% since the company went public back in 2011.

Mattrick said in a statement “We are taking layers out of the executive rank to get senior leaders closer to important product initiatives.”

Vietnam discuss legal gambling proposals

The Vietnam’s National Assembly discussed options to legalise gambling in the country for its ninety million nationals this week. Currently it is illegal for Vietnamese to gamble even thou there are seven casinos serving overseas visitors.

What was interesting is the point of view from Assembly members to limit the amount wagered by nationals and the frequency of gambling.

The draft proposal by the Ministry of Finance will allow Vietnamese gamblers three kinds of money betting on horse racing, dog racing and sports betting.

But the most controversial is the amount they are allowed to gamble and the maximum frequency of betting on horse and dog racing cannot exceed three days a week at each racecourse. For football betting, the betting frequency depends on the timetable of the matches.

The minimum amount of betting money is set at 10,000 Vietnamese dong ($0.50 cents) per time and not exceed 1 million Vietnamese dong ($50) per day.

How this should be enforced has not been made clear at present, with an official from the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) said there would be underground gambling still if they are regulated in this manner.

The gambling proposal also makes clear that people taking part in any gambling must be over 18 years old. The new proposals still make it illegal for any national to visit and gamble in the seven licensed casinos in the country, with a $10,000 fine in place for any violations.

However it is widely known that many Vietnamese visit and gamble in the casinos, with once casino manager quoted as saying that overseas players only make up one percent of their business.

Currently wealthy Vietnamese travel to neighbouring countries to gamble and play in casinos and the new proposal is aimed at stopping the flow of taxable dollars outside the country, however with the small maximums proposed it is unlikely this will prevent that from happening.

Manchester City Back 188Bet For Success In New Club Partnership

On the eve of a new Premier League campaign, Manchester City Football Club has teamed up with 188BET in a new club partnership.

The two year deal will see the global online gaming company become the club’s Official International Betting Partner.

As part of the deal, 188BET will be activating its partnership using City’s crest and player imagery throughout key regions and markets in addition to having a strong presence on the club’s Malay, Thai, Chinese and Indonesian websites.

Commenting on the partnership, Chief Commercial & Operating Officer for Manchester City Football Club, Tom Glick, said, “188BET’s experience within the Premier League has made them one of the most popular bookmakers among football fans, making them the perfect fit for the Club.

“Having built a strong reputation by providing customers with an extensive variety of products across multiple markets, we feel 188BET has the opportunity to become one of the biggest online gaming companies in the world. We look forward to working together to help them expand their operations, particularly throughout South East Asia.”

The club’s sentiment is also shared by Nigel Singer, Managing Director of 188BET, who added, “Manchester City is a fantastic addition to our global partnerships with Premier League football clubs.

“We are delighted to be associated with a club with such strong heritage and a passionate and loyal global fan base. This will allow us to reach a broad international audience.”

“Manchester City is one of the world’s most recognised football clubs and the combination of their proud history, worldwide fan base, and exciting plans for the future, means this is a great partnership opportunity for 188BET.”

August 13, 2013 Agree Three-Year Deal With Marseille

With sponsorship deals tied up in England, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Spain, it only needed a significant presence in France to allow to smother the sponsorship cloak over the top tier of European football; and that goal has been smashed into the back of the net after Norbert Teufelberger’s troops secured a three-year deal to become the official online betting and gaming partner of Olympique de Marseille.

The sponsorship package will allow players to get closer to the only French club to ever win a UEFA Champions League trophy, as they plan to roll out a number of fan-based initiatives that will see online casino gamers watching the team train, traveling to fixtures and hosting events where they can meet and mingle with the players.

“We are proud to establish this partnership with Olympique de Marseille, one of the oldest and most successful clubs in France and Europe,” said CEO, Norbert Teufelberger. “Today’s announcement means that we are now partnered with six of the greatest clubs in European football, enabling us to offer our customers an unparalleled range of online and real world offers.”

The news comes just a fortnight after agreed a similar deal with the top Belgian outfit RSC Anderlecht. This means have sponsorship deals with Manchester United (England), Juventus (Italy), Bayern Munich (Germany) and Real Madrid (Spain) giving them an unparalleled reach over European football.

The Road to Old Trafford

If Marseille supporters are unsure as to how will use their ties with the French football team to continue to improve their online gambling relationships, then look no further than the recent Road to Old Trafford initiative that was rolled out over two-days this past weekend at the home of Manchester United. players were invited to a unique event at Old Trafford stadium that saw United legends of past and present playing poker with them in a joint venture. Darren Fletcher, Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Dwight Yorke and Quinton Fortune all spent time with the players, and some of them even competed in fun poker tournaments, giving the players the chance to speak to their heroes.

In addition, at least a dozen free tickets were given out to watch Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Seville, eight lucky winners got to watch the first team training at Carrington training ground, and a whole host of prizes such as signed shirts, caps, boots and balls were also given out as prizes.

The event also saw a £250 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) tournament held over the two days and the Manchester United fan Sam Trickett took home the top prize. The most successful poker player in British history said: “I am really happy to win this event – I played for fun but I felt I really had to win at Old Trafford – I made it my mission!

Trickett won £10,000 for coming first and donated a significant portion of that prize to the Rio Ferdinand’s Live the Dream Foundation. Yours truly finished 19th for a £390 prize and donated all of my proceedings to the girlfriend’s Buy More Bags and Shoes Foundation.