CVC aquires Skrill; PartyPoker cashout cash grab irks players

TAGs:, cvc capital partners, Moneybookers, neteller, partypoker, payment processing, skrill

cvc-skrill-partypoker-norbertFresh off its failed takeover attempt of UK betting exchange Betfair, private equity group CVC Capital Partners has acquired a 75% stake in online payment processing outfit and Football Conference title sponsor Skrill (formerly MoneyBookers). The €600m deal must still be approved by regulators but Skrill CEO Siegfried Heimgaertner said he was “delighted to have CVC on board” as the company continued its “evolution and growth as a global payments provider.” CVC senior managing director Peter Rutland called Skrill “a high quality business that has demonstrated its ability to grow rapidly into a market leading provider.”

The deal will see Skrill’s current owner Investcorp retain a “substantial minority position” in the company as well as a seat on Skrill’s board of directors. Skrill, which recorded revenue of over €200m and earnings of €50m in 2012, currently boasts a staff of 700 employees, 35m account holders and 150k merchants offering Skrill as a payment option.

One of those 150k merchants is currently catching hell in online poker forums after a clandestine tweak to its terms and conditions came to light. With ninja-worthy stealth, PartyPoker has introduced a new cashout fee for Skrill and Neteller users that has those users moaning that the Party is well and truly over. The new €3/£2.50 fee per withdrawal was enough to annoy most players, but the additional 3% charge on the amount withdrawn – with no cap applied – has users reaching for the torches and pitchforks.

Skrill charges large merchants such as PartyPoker transaction fees as low as 1.4% + £0.20 in the UK and 1.9% and €0.25 in continental Europe, meaning Party stands to reap considerable rewards from the new player fees. In July, CEO Norbert Teufelberger (pictured above) promised that the imminent launch of the revamped PartyPoker product would help reverse the poker vertical’s diminishing returns, but this fee-for-all appears to be a rather shortsighted way of accomplishing that task, similar to how debt-laden Caesars Entertainment introduced a raft of airline-style “resort fees” on previously free products and services.

PartyPoker’s new fee structure appears to have undergone a staggered rollout, with players in Russia first to sound the alarm earlier this month. But now the fee is being applied around the globe, which threatens to drive even more players away from Party’s already evaporating pool. Since PartyPoker has yet to issue formal comment on the change, Party players are no doubt eagerly awaiting the new flop, turn and river fees, although these can be waived if players decide they really don’t wish to know what cards they might have been dealt.


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