For several weeks now there has been widespread speculation on who would acquire the UK online gambling group Cashcade. Would it be Party Gaming, 888.com or some other major group with the financial clout to close the deal?
This weekend the UK newspaper The Times provided the answer, reporting that Internet gambling group Party Gaming has clinched the deal with a GBP 100 million price tag.
888.com was widely thought to the front runner in bids to acquire Cashcade, which owns the major Foxy Bingo and Getminted websites. It seemed like a logical fit, as Cashcade is probably the biggest licensee on 888's Globalcom bingo platform.
However, last week CEO Gigi Levy told media that his company had the finance and had considered a deal, but didn't like the price. Concerns over a competitor buying the group are ameliorated by the fact that Cashcade's contract with Globalcom still has two years to run.
The Times informs that the deal with Party Gaming will be announced after the weekend, providing a much needed cash windfall for Independent News & Media, the indebted newspaper publisher that owns a near-20 percent stake in Cashcade.
Party Gaming is thought to be paying an initial GBP 75 million to take control. It will then have to pay up to GBP 25 million, depending on the performance of the business this year and in 2010.
After settling a legal dispute with the US Department of Justice in April, Party Gaming said it was hoping to make a number of acquisitions in the online gaming sector. This deal will mark its first since the settlement. It is also known to have looked at a deal to buy GigaMedia, owner of the Everest Poker online site.
Cashcade has significant potential. Majority-owned by its directors and staff, it has enjoyed strong growth since launch in 2000. Last year, the company generated EBITDA of just over GBP 12 million on revenues of about GBP 45 million and is said to be trading well this year.