June 23, 2015

Bwin.Party sells poker tournaments business for $35m

Bid target Bwin.Party has sold its televised poker tournaments business to a Chinese gaming company for $35m (£22.1m).

The online gambling firm is offloading World Poker Tour (WPT) to Ourgame International, a Hong Kong-listed developer of internet and mobile games.

Loss-making WPT broadcasts high-stakes poker tournaments in more than 150 countries, and Bwin.Party will remain a sponsor of its shows and events until December next year, with first refusal over other deals beyond that date.

Dave "The Devilfish" Ulliott, Britain’s best-known professional poker player who died earlier this year, is one of WPT's past champions.

The sale comes as Bwin.Party itself considers two competing takeover approaches, one of which is understood to value the company at €1.5bn (£1.1bn). Martin Weigold, finance chief of the FTSE 250 group, said the WPT disposal was “consistent” with its plan to sell non-core businesses.

“We believe that now is the right time to release that value for shareholders so that we can focus our efforts on our core real money gaming and technology business,” he added. Shares in Bwin.Party were up 2.9pc in afternoon trading on the sale.

WPT, which holds tournaments in cities such as London and Las Vegas, posted an adjusted loss of €4.1m last year on revenues of €10.4m. PartyGaming, which merged with Bwin in 2011, bought the business for $12.3m almost six years ago. Beijing-based Ourgame, the new owner, agreed a licensing deal with WPT covering a number of Asia countries in December.

Bwin.Party made no mention of its potential takeover in Monday’s announcement.

Amaya, the Canadian giant behind Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker, has teamed up with GVC for a €1.5bn approach for the company, while online gambling group 888 Holdings has also made a rival takeover proposal.

Shares sales earlier this month by the two founders of PartyGaming rattled investors by sparking concerns that a deal for Bwin.Party might not materialise.


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  2. While WPT was indeed a loss leader money wise, it is somewhat surprising that it was sold the brand at far less than its purchase price just 6 years earlier. Tournament poker on sites like TitanBet Poker and live has been one of the main methods of recreational and beginning professionals to build their bankrolls.