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21 March 2011

PartyGaming Bwin merger nears completion, by Greg Tingle - 21st March 2011

The proposed merger between gaming giants PartyGaming and Bwin is set to be completed by 31 March, subject to the formal approval of the Gibraltar Supreme Court, after being formally entered into the companies' register by the Vienna Commercial Court last week.

In a statement released bwin revealed that trading in its shares on the Vienna Stock Exchange will cease at the close of business in 25 March with existing bwin shareholders receiving 12.23 bwin.party depositary interests for each bwin share free of charge on 1 April. Shareholders will then be able to trade them on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BPTY.L.

The new bwin.party depositary interests will carry a dividend entitlement with effect from 1 January 2010. The company's dividend policy will be determined by the new board of bwin.party digital entertainment plc over the next few months.

In addition to the approval of Germany's Federal Cartel Office and the Austrian Federal Competition authority the merger has also received anti-trust approval from authorities in Romania.

PartyGaming is regarded by most as the world's leading igaming company, and is currently looking to ramp up in many countries, with a re entry into the U.S as a major focus point. PartyGaming's World Poker Tour brand already enjoys strong press in the U.S, Canada, as well as other countries with a strong passion for gaming and gambling such as Australia. Pay TV, magazines and the internet are the main media platforms unitized by PartyGaming. They are also looking at sports and entertainment stadium sponsorships and naming rights opportunities, taking note of strategies used by the likes of Betfair and Centrebet in Australia.

PartyCasino.com remains the companies most popular and profitable brand, and also boasts the world's largest jackpots for the online casino sector. PartyGaming are currently taking steps to see their PartyPoker.com poker brand reclaim their number one position, and a return to the U.S would likely see that outcome within a number of months, possibly weeks. World Poker Tour continues to act as powerful media and marketing vehicle boosting awareness, thus business, across the entire PartyGaming portfolio.

Media Man advised that Party and a range of other igaming companies remain in close contact with a number of leading Australian and New Zealand media companies and brands, and that the Australian print, online publishing and television sector remains extremely interested in exploring b2b with Party, having become aware of Party's success with leading website portals that are available in the region, plus the popularity of Hollywood brands down under like Marvel Entertainment and Paramount Pictures.

Media moguls with strong ties to Australia such as James Packer, mate Lachlan Murdoch, and News Corp old guard, Rupert Murdoch, are all aware of Party's success in the Asia Pacific, pushed along by internet commerce, and are open to exploring business possibilities with the Gibraltar igaming powerhouse.

The PartyCasino.com website remains the most popular of the Party branded gaming sites.

By The Numbers

Overall revenue up 15% to €357m

Casino revenue up €15m from €136.8m to €151.4m

Bingo up €29m from €22.8m to €51.4m

Sports betting up €7m from €13.2m to €20.8m

Poker down €11m from €136.8m to €124.8m

World Poker Tour contributes €6.5m

B2B network services customers generate €2.4m

Media Man, Casino News Media and Global Gaming Directory do have a b2b relationship with PartyGaming, as they do with dozens of other companies in the gaming, igaming, media and entertainment industry.

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