GVC wins battle for bwin.party

GVC Holdings Plc agreed to buy Bwin.party Digital Entertainment Plc for about GBP1.12 billion ($1.7 billion) in cash and shares, winning a four-month battle with 888 Holdings Plc to acquire the online gaming company, Bloomberg reported.

Bwin.party investors will receive 129.64 pence a share, GVC said in a statement. 

Bwin.party withdrew its recommendation for the rival bid from 888 and now supports GVC. Bwin.party rose as much as 3.7 percent and 888 fell as much as 9.4 percent.

The battle over the Gibraltar-based company began in May and is the latest in a series of combinations in the gaming industry driven both by the growth of the sector and increased regulation as governments raise taxes and seek to reduce crime.

GVC, whose market value is about half of 888’s, refused to concede even after Bwin.party agreed in July to a lower bid from 888 that it favored because it said it was more certain.

“As far as we’re concerned it’s the end of the process,” Bwin.party Chairman Philip Yea said on a conference call Friday. “GVC have been very determined. They have worked very hard to catch up” with the original 888 offer.

Bwin.party shareholders will own 66.6 percent of the resulting company, which expects at least 125 million euros in annual cost savings by the end of 2017. Bwin.party CEO Norbert Teufelberger will join the board of the new company as a non-executive director.