GVC Bwin Takeover Suddenly Not-So-Pretty

Is the bwin.party board regretting its decision to go with GVC following that company’s stock market nosedive? (bgrecruitment.com)

Is the bwin.party board regretting its decision to go with GVC following that company’s stock market nosedive? (bgrecruitment.com)

Could the GVC acquisition of bwin.party be under threat? The Independent newspaper seems to think it could, as GVC’s lately tumbling share price has suddenly made it a less palatable prospect.

As we reported several weeks ago, GVC won the battle to acquire bwin following an all-out raising war with competing bidder 888 Holdings. The bwin board chose to accept a higher offer from GVC, of £1.1 billion made up of cash and shares, except that the “share” part of the deal has been decreasing in value ever since.

As the Independent notes, GVC’s offer valued bwin at around 130p per share, while 888’s rejected offer valued the company at around 115p to 116p per share. But GVC’s plummeting stocks mean that its offer now also lies around the 116p mark, very similar to that of 888’s.

Bwin Chairman Philip Yea said at the time that a poll of shareholders taken just before the deal was sealed, revealed that opinion was very much evenly split between the two offers, but the board plumped for GVC anyway.

They may now be regretting that decision.

Responsible Adults

Meanwhile, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has warned the industry that it is standing at a crossroads where it must either choose to embrace responsible gambling or face a stringent government clampdown.

Speaking at the WRB Responsible Gambling conference in London, Matthew Hill, director of regulatory risks and analysis at the UK Gambling Commission, warned operators that the industry was becoming deeply unpopular in this country because of the proliferation of those in-play betting advertisements around prime time football matches, not to mention the controversy surrounding fixed odds betting terminals in the nation’s high streets.

“It’s important to persuade the public that the gambling industry can be trusted on responsible gambling,” he said, “The fairness, openness and transparency of the product…suppliers have a major role to play on that. You should ask, ‘how are the products I am selling to retailers contributing to these overall efforts to build public confidence?’ ”

Social Gaming 

A lack of social conscience within the gambling industry would ultimately lead to stricter regulatory controls and “constraints on the freedom of responsible adults to make their own decisions,” he warned.

Right on cue, the UKGC brought out the second edition of its Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Gambling, an update of the original code, published in 2007.

New regulations include a ban on the offering of sign-up bonuses aimed at new customers before the 9pm watershed and the directive that a social responsibility message must be included at the end of all TV adverts.

The gambleaware.co.uk must also be displayed prominently “for at least 10 per cent of the advert’s length.”

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