Shareholders in Canada’s Amaya Gaming Group have approved the necessary financing of the company’s acquisition of the Oldford Group, the parent company of online gambling sites PokerStars and Full Tilt. Amaya CEO David Baazov (pictured) said he was happy with shareholders’ “phenomenal and overwhelming support” for the $4.9b deal, which stunned the industry (but not this site) when it was officially announced in June. The shareholders also approved a rebrand of the company to Amaya Inc. for “reasons of simplicity.”
Amaya said Wednesday’s shareholder approval followed similar approvals by gaming regulators in the Isle of Man, the jurisdiction Oldford calls home, as well as in the dozen or so other jurisdictions in which Stars and/or Full Tilt are licensed to operate. The Toronto Stock Exchange, on which Amaya is currently listed, has also issued conditional approval on the deal. The approvals make it far more likely Amaya will meet its Sept. 30 target for completing the transaction.
Since the year started, Amaya’s share price has risen an astounding 350% to just over $29 after briefly topping $30 earlier in the week. Global Maxfin Capital analyst Ralph Garcea suggested the shares were still undervalued and could hit $35 as Amaya preps Stars for its triumphant return to the US market in New Jersey.
It remains to be seen what PokerStars’ transition from privately held company to publicly traded commodity will mean for the world’s top poker site. The private and public business worlds hold distinctly different philosophies, as evidenced by a recent Duke University survey that found 55% of publicly traded companies’ chief financial officers would forego an attractive investment opportunity if it meant the company would miss its quarterly earnings targets.
Certainly, over the years Baazov has demonstrated precious little fear of taking big risks to grow his company, so he’s already a cut above most public company execs. But he now has a host of private equity heavyweights looking for returns on their investments and ‘patience’ is traditionally not a virtue these firms have in great supply.