Canadian based Amaya Inc. has announced that a special committee formed by its board of directors has decided to hire investment bank Barclays Capital Canada Inc to examine the unofficial proposal made by its Chief Executive David Baazov to buy-out PokerStars and turn it into a private limited company.
Baazov had earlier stated that he has plans to take PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world private by offering stakeholders around C$21 per share. He has indicated in a regulatory filing that he is likely to submit a formal proposal by end of February subject to certain eventualities. The filing also disclosed that he is already in midst of discussions with potential investors.
Amaya Inc has said that it has been notified that its executive vice president of corporate development & general counsel Marlon Goldstein., along with three other employees will participate in the take-over bid. Amaya did not specify the names of the other three executives but has committed to releasing information on this deal as soon as any progress is made.
The special committee has reconfirmed that it has received no formal proposal as yet and there is no assurance that the notice from the company’s CEO will result in a completed transaction. Media reports suggest that that Baazov has engaged Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank as financial advisers for the possible buy-out but Baazov has neither confirmed nor denied these rumours.
Market analysts have advised a wait-and-watch approach to investors, terming the take-over bid to be an opportunistic bid. Investment bank Macquarie has said that the investors should hold-out for a better price as they estimate the shares to be around at C$33. According to data from Bloomberg, analysts’ expectation of its target price was $34.78 as against the current market price of C$19 and the offer price of C$21. Other reports indicate that shareholders believe that while the deal is likely to go through, it will be not at the current price being offered by Baazov.
Amaya has strong presence in both Business-to- Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) segments in the gaming and entertainment industry. The company owns PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, StarsDraft and runs a number of popular live poker tournaments like the Latin American Poker Tour and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.
The stock has however been underperforming for more than a year after legal issues hampered growth in online poker and daily fantasy sports operations. The company shares have dropped almost 50 percent from its peak price of C$34 in July 2015 to around $17 during the first week of Feb.