Major changes will be necessary, CEO admits
Possibly spurred by the critical eye of activist board member Jason Ader, the chief executive of Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Norbert Teufelberger, has acknowledged that major changes at the poorly performing online gambling group are necessary.
Teufelberger accepted that fact in presenting Bwin.Party's H1-2014 results, which again illustrated a disappointing performance in virtually all verticals but sports betting and mobile… thanks mainly to the FIFA World Cup.
The numbers tell the story without need for elaboration:
* Revenues down again at Euro 317.1 million (H1 2013: Euro 342.5 million)
* Euro 11.9 million lost following the closure of the Greek market and Bwin's 'volume to value' strategy.
* Nationally regulated markets represented 56 percent of total revenue (H1 2013: 52 percent)
* Good news from mobile, where GGR across all verticals soared 125 percent to Euro 67.4 million
(H1 2013: Euro 342.5 million)
* Remedial measures underway with planned cost reductions of Euro 30 million this year remain on-track with savings of Euro 13.8 million achieved in H1-2014.
* Clean EBITDA at Euro 46.4 million (H1 2013: Euro 60.7 million) down due to Euro 7.3 million of operating losses in New Jersey, reduced domain sales and the loss of Greek revenues.
* Non-cash impairment charge of Euro 94.7 million against poker-related and other intangible assets.
* Euro 94 million loss after tax (H1 2013: loss of Euro 11.6 million)
* Operating losses increased significantly from a negative result of Euro 4.9 million last year to a loss of Euro 100.4 million in the first half of 2014.
* Clean EPS of 3 Euro cents per share (H1 2013: 4.3 Euro cents)
* Current trading in the 8 weeks to has resulted in average daily net revenue declining 4 percent compared with the same period in 2013.
Drilling down into the revenue numbers the following is apparent:
* Sports betting was a positive performer, with revenues up 7 percent at Euro 127.4 million (H1 2013: Euro 119 million.
* Casino and Games dipped sharply down at Euro 103.3 million (H1 2013: Euro 112.2 million.)
* Poker was even worse, diving 31 percent to Euro 44.1 million (H1 2013: Euro 63.9 million)
* Bingo down at Euro 26.7 million (H1 2013: Euro 27.6 million)
* Other down at Euro 15.6 million (H1 2013: Euro 19.8 million)
* New player acquisitions were down at 485,800 (H1 2013: 507,800)
* Yield per average player was up 4 percent at Euro 10.
Teufelberger observed in his report:
"We are on-track with our current cost saving measures, however it is clear that a more fundamental approach is needed to turnaround our commercial and operational performance. This requires a major change: we are simplifying our structure to accelerate the execution of our plans to drive revenue growth, increase our focus on customers in nationally regulated and/or taxed markets, and further reduce infrastructure costs.
"This new approach will also allow us to consider alternative financing and corporate structures in order to create additional value."
In subsequent exchanges with reporters, Teufelberger estimated that the company will earn up to Euro 40 million through the disposal of unnecessary assets, and revealed that the sell-off has already started with the company's 40 percent stake in Betbull offered to an unidentified third party.
Three years on from the merger of Party Gaming and Bwin Interactive, the group's share price has reduced by a third, and management might be considering suggestions from US activist investor Jason Ader that the group may need to be broken up.
Teufelberger commented: "Bwin.Party should be prepared to play an active role in any future reshaping of the industry if further value can be delivered."
He also revealed that the group has appointed advisers to look at a potential IPO for its Kalixa payments business.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa