Consolidation Continues In The Affiliate Marketing Sector

Catena, AXL and XLMedia all feature in recent acquisitions

This week’s news that affiliate marketing network Catena Media has made another acquisition has again highlighted the consolidation taking place in the affiliate marketing sector of the industry.

Stockholm-listed Catena grew its German market influence with the acquisition for Euro 9.5 million of the Dreamworx Online sports betting, casino and financial services network, which includes major affiliate sites like Sportwettenanbieter.com, Fussballwetten.de and financial services aggregator DeutscheFXBroker.com. Catena will pay Euro 5.5 in cash and the balance in newly issued Catena shares, a company statement revealed.

The acquisition’s activities are expected to delivery quarterly sales of around Euro 600,000 on a margin of 80 percent.

Earlier in 2017 Catena bought Swedish-facing Slotsia for Euro 8.6 million and assets from Online Media (UK) Ltd in a GBP 11.65 million with a GBP 5.77 million earn-out provision. The deal included Bets.co.uk, Bonuses.co.uk and iGamble.co.uk.

Catena CEO Henrik Ekdahl revealed that the Dreamworx’s digital assets would be managed by the recently acquired Baybets Malta team, which will move to optimise the future earnings potential of Catena’s expanded German market portfolio.

Catena’s acquisition drive follows those of AXL Affiliates and XLMedia late last year.

In November Malta-based AXL announced its acquisition of Astute Media, an international advertising platform, and its twelve subsidiaries for a total of GBP 22 million.

President Alex Munteanu said that the buy would help his company reach new markets and strengthen its hand in regions where it already has a sports betting affiliate presence.

“I am confident that this acquisition will double the leads that we are delivering to our iGaming partners.” Munteanu said, adding that the acquisition gives AXL in-house capability to become the largest sports betting affiliate company worldwide.

He predicted that it would enable AXL to increase traffic to its clients tenfold, sending over 25,000 leads a month from over 2,000 gaming and sports related websites.

Earlier in 2017 AXL bought UK -based TipsBetting Media Ltd for GBP 260,000, as well as the sports affiliate website oddstake.com and all related assets for Euro 1.15 million.

XLMedia was also active last year, spending $2.4 million in cash to mop up the 46 percent of Marmar Media that it did not already own. In 2015 XLM acquired a 54 percent. stake in Marmar, which posted 2016 FY revenue of $11.7 million and profit after tax of $2.5 million.

XL executives said that the buy would strengthen the group media channel growth, enabling XLM to leverage additional synergies, run an increased number of campaigns and continue the diversification of the revenue and customer base.

Whilst these three companies attracted much media attention in their deals, there were other major acquisitions going on as well last year.

The affiliate division of Oslo-listed Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) invested Euro 3.5 million in acquiring an un-named affiliate network, going on to secure a SEK 400 million bond which it earmarked for further affiliate buys.

It following that with the Euro 111.5 million acquisition of affiliate network Casinotopsonline.com for Euro 11.5 million, and then kept up the momentum with the purchase of another un-named affiliate outfit for Euro 3.5 million.

Another big buyer last year was Malta-based affiliate network RakeTech which secured loans and bonds worth a total of Euro 70 million before embarking on an acquisitions spree, starting with BetXpert.com and sports content platform TVsporten.dk, followed by the Agonas AB and Astro Media Group AB for an undisclosed consideration, and the purchase (again for an undisclosed price) of Danish poker community Pokernet.dk, along with online gaming affiliate websites Odds.dk and Casinoguide.dk, Blackjack.dk, Bonusodds.dk, Casinoguide.dk, Livescore.dk, Spilforslag.eu and Sportbonus.net.

At the time RakeTech was already regarded as one of the top affiliate groups in Europe, operating more than 1,500 affiliate sites across Sweden, Finland, Norway, United Kingdom and Spain, including major sites like Nyacasinon.com as well as leading Swedish sports betting website Betting.se.

Some analysts have estimated that as many as 51 significant affiliate consolidation deals have been agreed in recent years, and the trend shows no sign of abating.