Sky Betting & Gaming snapped up by Canadian gambling firm in £3.4bn deal

Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG) has been acquired by a Canadian gambling firm for £3.4bn ( $4.7bn) in a deal which will create the world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company.

The chief executive of The Stars Group Inc, which owns PokerStars, an online card room, described the deal to acquire the Leeds-headquartered company, the sponsor of the English Football League which employs more than 1000 staff, as a “landmark moment.”

“The acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming is a landmark moment in The Stars Group’s history,” said Rafi Ashkenazi.

“SBG operates one of the world’s fastest growing sportsbooks and is one of the United Kingdom’s leading gaming providers. SBG’s premier sports betting product is the ideal complement to our industry-leading poker platform. The ability to offer two low-cost acquisition channels of this magnitude provides The Stars Group with great growth potential and will significantly increase our ability to create winning moments for our customers.

“Following this transaction, The Stars Group will have significantly enhanced scale and a highly-regarded global brand portfolio. As a result, we are well positioned to realize our vision of becoming the world’s favorite iGaming destination.”

SBG is currently home to the UK’s largest active online player base and, with over 80% of revenues generated from mobile devices, is a leading mobile betting and gaming operator. In partnership with Sky, SBG has developed some of online gaming’s most well-known brands, most notably Sky Bet, Sky Vegas and Sky Casino.

SBG’s unaudited annual revenue was £624m and unaudited adjusted EBITDA was £202m in the 12 months to the end of December 2017. The Stars Group said SBG’s Yorkshire base will operate as a “major hub” of the enlarged group.

SBG is majority-owned by CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm. CVC holds 71% of Sky Bet’s shares, while Sky, the owner of Sky News, has a 20% stake.

The remaining shares are held by SBG’s management.

“We are delighted to join forces with The Stars Group,” said Richard Flint, Sky Betting & Gaming’s chief executive.

“We have had a fantastic last few years and would like to thank CVC and Sky for supporting us in becoming a leading online operator in the UK. This transaction allows us to offer our best-in-class products to a truly global audience. We’re excited about our future together.”

Pev Hooper, partner at CVC, said: “Richard and his team have done a fantastic job building Sky Betting & Gaming into one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing operators. We have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with the team and our partners at Sky. This combination with The Stars Group opens a new and exciting chapter for SBG to accelerate its international growth, and we look forward to continuing the journey as a shareholder in the combined group.”

Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive, Sky, added: “This agreement is an important milestone in SBG’s growth story and a testament to what we and the whole SBG team have achieved. We look forward to the next chapter and continuing our long-term partnership with SBG as part of The Stars Group.”

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