Partygaming moves closer to Bwin merger

ONLINE gaming company PartyGaming has moved closer to its agreed merger with Austrian rival Bwin, confirming that the tie-up is planned to complete on 31 March.

The merger was formally entered into the Vienna companies’ register yesterday, in a filing by Bwin. The Austrian company’s shares will cease trading on 25 March in anticipation of completion, though approval is still pending from the Supreme Court in Gibraltar, where PartyGaming is headquartered.

The new company, to be known as digital entertainment, will also be based in Gibraltar, a popular location for online gaming companies due to its relaxed tax laws and well-regulated gambling system.

Rumours of a merger between the two companies began in November last year, with final approval achieved at an extraordinary general meeting in Januray this year. Under the terms of the deal, bwin shareholders will receive 12.23 PartyGaming shares for each existing share.

Shares in both companies fell slightly in yesterday’s trading, with PartyGaming closing 1.36 per cent down at 174.6p, and Bwin closing 2.04 per cent down at €24.45 (£21.28).



CHARLES Wilkinson, co-head of corporate broking at Deutsche Bank, is advising PartyGaming on its merger with Bwin. Also working on the Deutsche Bank team is Mumtaz Naseem, who recently advised Reckitt Benckiser on its acquisition of condom maker SSL. Tim Lloyd-Hughes, who heads up coverage of the leisure sector in corporate finance at Deutsche Bank, is also working on the deal.

Bwin is being advised by McQueen.?George Fleet, a managing director at the corporate finance advisory firm, is taking the lead for McQueen, which also advised on Bay Restaurant?Group’s sale of Ha Ha Bar & Grill to Mitchells & Butlers for £19.5m in September. McQueen also recently advised Wm Morrison on its acquisition of Simply?Fresh Foods in July. Fleet, who joined McQueen from Wasserstein Perella, was joined on the deal by Simon Croft-Baker, also a managing director at the firm. Croft-Baker joined McQueen in 2002, shortly after its launch. Previously, he worked in the UK M&A team at JPMorgan. David Crow