GVC Holdings has toughened up, saying that it could walk away from its long running pursuit of rival bwin.party if that firm’s board continues to recommend 888 Holdings’ acquisition offer.
A source close to GVC told the Financial Mail that it will increase in cash-and-shares offer for Bwin if 888 Holdings raises its own bid. However, if 888 does not raise its offer but still remains the frontrunner, then GVC might just walk away from the table.
“Bwin has played a clever game of poker here by keeping both parties interested,’ said a GVC source. “But we are considering all options, including walking away.”
Bwin, which owns multiple gambling brands such as PartyPoker and the World Poker Tour, was put for sale in November.
GVC, which originally partnered with Amaya Gaming on an acquisition bid, and 888, which rejected its own takeover bid by William Hill, decided that bwin was an attractive takeover target.
In July, 888 Holdings’ £900m in cash and stock was announced as the winning bid. Undeterred, GVC kicked Amaya out of the picture and came back several days later with a similar mixture of cash and stock but with new partner Cerberus Capital Management and an extra £100m, boosting its total offer to £1b.
GVC came back a second time, again raising its offer to £1.03b, causing 888’s lenders to reportedly put a hold on a $650m (€585.7m) loan to finance 888’s proposed acquisition.
On Monday, Bwin.party and GVC mutually confirmed that they were still talking about a potential deal. GVC claimed to have resolved four ‘sticking points,’ including confirmation that it could secure financing and achieve its promised cost savings, whether the combined group would be listed on the London Stock Exchange and whether or not GVC could obtain approval from gambling regulators in New Jersey.
GVC said these concerns had been “resolved” to the Bwin.party board’s satisfaction but that it was continuing to work on other minor issues before submitting its latest concrete acquisition offer, which it said would be on the same terms as its Aug. 7 bid. However, Bwin.party’s announcement reiterated that its board’s earlier recommendation of the 888 bid remained unchanged by GVC’s announcement.