bwin.party Acquisition: GVC Bids $1.72 Billion, 888 Plans Their Next Move

GVC Holdings New offer for bwin.party

The bidding war for bwin.party Group is intensifying as reports state GVC Holding will put a $1.72 billion takeover bid on the table.

According to The Times, in the hopes of getting the attention of the bwin.party board, the British group has decided to raise the stakes once again by revising their August 7 bid of $1.6 billion, which offered 130p per bwin.party share.

According to the newspaper, the board of bwin.party will meet on Thursday, August 20 to decide to either accept the new bid from GVC or to confirm the $1.4 billion deal announced in July with 888 Holdings.

Rumors have it that 888 Holdings will be given a window of time to come up with the counter offer in case the group decided to go with GVC.

If the situation stays as unclear as it is today, we find very hard to ask investors to commit to the deal.

To match GVC's bid, 888 will also need to regain the favor of JP Morgan and Barclays, as the two financial institutions recently decided to put the syndication of a $650 million-equivalent covenant-lite leveraged loan, one that was to finance 888 Holdings' previous offer, on hold.

"The last two offers from GVC and the way the company decided to drop Amaya Gaming to advance in the negotiations have been a real game changer in the acquisition process," a Barclay's representative told PokerNews. "Today, the situation is no longer as clear as it was on July 17 [when bwin.party announced the deal with 888]."

"If the situation stays as unclear as it is today, we find very hard to ask investors to commit to the deal," the representative said. "In order to proceed, we need more clarity."

"It is hard to get investors to commit to a deal when an M&A situation is unclear, as they are reluctant to allocate capital and resources to a deal they are unsure will happen," a senior leveraged loan banker said. "Most banks don't like to hold exposure so will price a deal to sell but there is a rationale for holding something back as they will be able to get a much better deal through the market if the M&A situation is sorted."

At the same time, 888 Holdings Chief Operating Officer Itai Frieberger expressed his optimism about the outcome of the operation and told eGaming Review that he believes the merger between bwin.party and 888 "could become one of the most successful mergers of the industry, not simply by cutting costs but by creating a more effective operator – an operator with all four verticals powered by the same marketing platform."

Back in July, 888 and bwin.party issued a joint statement saying that the merger of the two groups would "create one of the leading operators in the growing global online gaming industry," with pro forma combined annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

PokerNews will have more on the bwin.party Group acquisition saga as it develops.

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