BUSINESS

Amaya, CEO Baazov hire advisers to consider proposed privatization bid

TAGs: Amaya Gaming, David Baazov, PokerStars

amaya-privatization-bidCanadian online gambling operator Amaya Gaming has appointed Barclays to consider the takeover bid by Amaya CEO David Baazov.

On Monday, PokerStars parent company Amaya announced it had appointed Barclays Capital Canada to act as its exclusive financial advisor on the proposed C$2.8b bid that Baazov announced last week. Amaya has also engaged Blake, Cassels & Graydon to act as its legal advisor on the deal.

A week ago, Baazov announced plans to mount a takeover bid for the company he oversees (as well as being its single largest shareholder, controlling around 18.6% of outstanding shares). Baazov has said he wants to take the company private less than two years after Amaya paid $4.9b to acquire the privately held Rational Group, the parent of online gambling sites PokerStars and Full Tilt.

Amaya also revealed that four of its senior execs would be joining Baazov’s bid proposal. None of the execs were identified by name, but Amaya did mention that one of these execs was its exec VP for corporate development, a position currently held by Marlon Goldstein, who also serves as Amaya’s general counsel.

Reportedly not part of Baazov’s bid team are PokerStars’ former owners, father and son team Isai and Mark Scheinberg, who earned a $4.9b payday for selling the Rational Group. Amaya moved quickly last week to quiet rumors that the Scheinbergs were looking to re-involve themselves in the business now that the company was moving out of the public market spotlight.

On Friday, BNN.ca reported that Baazov had hired Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs to act as his advisors in the takeover bid. Amaya continues to stress that there is no guarantee that Baazov will submit a formal bid.

Last Monday’s announcement regarding Baazov’s prospective bid provided a much-needed boost to Amaya’s shares, the value of which improved by one-quarter. But today’s announcement was unable to achieve the same fate, as the shares dropped nearly 3%.

Speculation is mounting that a rival gambling firm will emerge with a competing offer, as Baazov’s C$21 per share offer – only one dollar more than the price Amaya paid to acquire the Rational Group – was widely viewed as too low to convince Amaya’s board to embark on yet another behind the scenes upheaval so soon after the Rational takeover.

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