As part of its shift towards regulated markets, online betting operator GVC Holdings has agreed to buy 51 percent of Georgian gambling group Crystalbet for €41 million (US$50.84 million) in cash.
The UK-listed company, which is currently in the midst of acquiring rival Ladbrokes Coral, announced on Monday that has signed a deal to acquire a majority of the equity capital of Crystalbet owner Mars LLC, with a commitment to buy the remaining 49 percent in 2021 for as much as €150 million.
The acquisition, which is not subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of March 2018.
Described as “one of the leading online gaming operators in the Republic of Georgia,” Crystalbet holds licenses to offer sports betting, casino games, poker, and peer-to-peer games in the Georgian market. According to GVC, since the Georgian-facing operator was launched in 2011, it has “achieved significant growth, driven by its entrepreneurial management team and a highly successful marketing strategy.”
Crystalbet reported revenues of €34 million, with EBITDA of €12 million and a profit after tax of €10.2 million for the financial year ending December 2017. By the end of 2017, the operator had gross assets—cash mostly—amounting to €8.2 million.
Following the acquisition, GVC plans to boost Crystalbet’s positon in the Georgian market by leveraging its portfolio of games, including content, as well as the company’s digital marketing capabilities and purchasing power. Isle of Man-based GVC, which had been moving away from the so-called grey- and black-markets, disposed its Turkish-facing business in November as part of its renewed attempt at a Lads Coral takeover.
“Through access to GVC’s content, technology and digital marketing skills, we believe Crystalbet can become a clear leader in the regulated Georgian market,” GVC CEO Kenneth Alexander said in a statement. “This acquisition is in line with our stated strategy of being a truly global player, with a focus on regulated/regulating markets.”