Spanish gaming giant Cirsa sold to Blackstone Group


blackstone-buys-cirsa-gamingSpanish gaming giant Cirsa Gaming Corp has been acquired by private equity funds managed by The Blackstone Group.

On Friday, Cirsa and Blackstone issued a joint statement saying they’d reached agreement on a deal under which Blackstone will acquire Cirsa’s casino, bingo and sports betting operations in Spain, Italy and Latin America, with the exception of the Argentinean business, which will continue to exist as a separate entity under the rule of Cirsa founder Manuel Lao Hernandez.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the Barcelona-based Cirsa had been expected to fetch somewhere between €2b and €2.5b via the hedge fund bidding war that began in February. Earlier this month, media reports indicated that the field of possible bidders had narrowed to just Blackstone and rival hedge funders Apollo Global Management, creating doubts as to whether a deal was actually in the offing. Cirsa was also reportedly mulling an initial public offering should a direct sale not transpire.

Cirsa’s current empire includes 147 casinos, 178 salons, 70 bingo halls, over 2k sports betting points of sale and over 75k gaming machines. Cirsa is also a joint venture partner with UK bookmaker Ladbrokes in the Sportium sports betting operation. The company’s 2017 revenue exceeded €1.7b and extended Cirsa’s streak of consecutive quarterly earnings growth to 47.

Joaquim Agut (pictured), who has been Cirsa’s CEO since 2006, will become the company’s new chairman as Hernandez heads for the exits.

Hernandez thanked all the Cirsa staffers that have worked for the company over the last four decades, while saying the new Cirsa would benefit from Blackstone’s “enthusiasm and ambition.” Agut thanked Hernandez, saying the company was where it was due to its “exceptional leadership.”

Blackstone’s European private equity director Lionel Assant said the fund was “happy to make this investment” and claimed to be “excited to support Joaquim and his strategy in this new stage as well as the expansion of CIRSA both organically and through acquisitions and in new geographical areas.”