A Canadian gambling giant behind PokerStars yesterday revealed a £3.4billion deal to take over Sky’s betting and gaming arm.
The Stars Group is to buy Sky Betting & Gaming, better known as SkyBet, from broadcaster Sky and private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. The pair currently own stakes of 20 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.
The rest of the company’s shares are thought to be owned by its management team, including chief executive Richard Flint, and could now be worth around £300million.
High stakes: The deal includes core brands such as SkyCasino
Existing shareholders will be paid $4.7billion (around £3.4billion). Some £2.6billion will be paid in cash, and the rest in Stars Group shares.
The deal, which Stars Group expects to complete this summer, is set to create the world’s largest publicly-listed online gaming company.
SkyBet, which sponsors the English Football League, was founded in 2001 and has grown to become one of the UK’s biggest online bookmakers. Sky Betting & Gaming’s other main brands comprise SkyVegas, SkyCasino, SkyPoker and SkyBingo.
Private equity firm CVC agreed to buy its stake in SkyBet from Sky in late 2014, when the business was valued at just £800million. Earlier this year, it was rumoured that CVC was looking to float SkyBet on the London Stock Exchange.
SkyBet’s Flint yesterday thanked CVC and Sky for ‘supporting us in becoming a leading operator in the UK’. He said the Stars Group deal would help the business reach a ‘truly global audience’.
SkyBet reported revenues of £624million last year, up 46 per cent, and earnings of £202million, up 51 per cent.
Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said yesterday: ‘This agreement is an important milestone in SkyBet’s growth story and a testament to what we and the whole SkyBet team have achieved.’