- »The Stars Group Buys BetEasy Ahead of Flutter Merger
The Stars Group Buys BetEasy Ahead of Flutter Merger
The moves continue in the runup to the 2020 deal that is likely to create the world’s largest online betting and gambling company. Flutter Entertainment is on tap to acquire The Stars Group in a £9.8 billion deal.
Ahead of the finalization of the deal next year, The Stars Group just agreed to pay $250 million to acquire the remainder of BetEasy. This completes the buyout of the Australian online betting platform.
On October 2, Flutter Entertainment, formerly PaddyPower Betfair, announced its intention to acquire The Stars Group (TSG), parent company of PokerStars. The combined valuation of the companies was said to be approximately £9.8 billion.
Upon the completion of the deal in the second or third quarter of 2020, the bigger company will be a “global leader in sports betting and gaming”. It will have approximately 13 million customers in more than 100 betting markets.
Australia will be one of the countries most affected by the move. With Sportsbet and BetEasy in the mix, the newly-combined Flutter-TSG company will own about 26% of the Australian sports betting market.
Speaking of BetEasy…
The Stars Group already owned the majority of BetEasy prior to this month. But they bought the rest of it in a deal announced during the first week of December.
For the price of A$151 million, The Stars Group bought the remaining 20% interest in BetEasy. Further, TSG also paid A$100 million to settle a performance payment that had been a part of the 2018 deal. In this deal, TSG acquired 80% of BetEasy. TSG will also repay $56.9 million of BetEasy loans outstanding for minority shareholders.
The acquisition should be complete within 90 days and settled in cash. However, if the deal is finalized after the Flutter-TSG merger, Flutter may complete the deal.
The Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi commented, “I’m delighted to reach this agreement for our BetEasy business. The launch of BetEasy through our acquisitions of CrownBet and William Hill Australia in 2018 created one of the leading operators in Australia and increased our exposure to a high-growth regulated market.”
Tripp Ready to Offload Company
Ashkenazi was complimentary of BetEasy’s outgoing CEO in the buyout press release. “Matt Tripp’s entrepreneurial spirit and vision has guided BetEasy since he founded the business, and we are glad he will oversee the transition as non-executive President.”
Tripp noted that the deal was the final chapter of the “long-term succession plan” for the company. “I know that this business,” he said, “which we founded back in 2013, is in very capable hands with a strong executive team and the backing of The Stars Group, who have been terrific partners and global leaders in this industry.”
Tripp’s journey in the business began at Sportsbet 15 years prior. Then, he bought that start-up business for $250K in 2005. He turned it into the top online bookmaker in Australia. Then, he sold it to Paddy Power for $388 million in a deal that was completed in 2011.
Through all of it, Tripp couldn’t have foreseen all of the regulatory changes and complications that would hit the market in the years since.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that those changes, combined with taxes that include point-of-consumption taxes of 8% to 15%, have “fundamentally changed” the betting market. It was once an industry measured by customers and turnover. But Tripp said those numbers no longer guarantee profitable growth in today’s environment.
“Success or failure in the Australian market will now be more heavily driven by how well operators adapt to the complex and challenging regulatory and taxation environment we operate in,” Tripp said.
Massive Market Share and Growth
With TSG in the process of owning 100% of BetEasy and Flutter owning Sportsbet, the combination of the companies will comprise a solid percentage of the Australian online betting market.
This merger of those entities, however, is on tap to be reviewed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
When TSG and Flutter each announced their third quarter revenues recently, they proved that the Australian market is in good shape and should respond well to the deal.
TSG’s revenue increased 8.8% in the third quarter of 2019 to $622.4 million. This was due, in large part, to the UK and Australian markets. And Australia, in particular, showed a 36.4% year-on-year increase to $71.1 million.
This coincided with Flutter’s 10% growth in the third quarter to £533 million. The 19% increase in Sportsbet revenue alone was a positive that partnered with the growth of TSG.
On the news of the TSG buyout of BetEasy, TSG shares rose from $23.92 to $24.25. It then hit a high of $25.56 this week. Its stocks have been a bit shaky since then, but the merger with Flutter remains very highly anticipated.