Reports that Tipico owners are looking for buyers
The four entrepreneurs who founded German online sports betting group Tipico have reportedly engaged JP Morgan and Rothchild to find possible buyers for the company, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
The publication speculates that the new European gambling rules are driving an urge to merge in the online gambling industry, citing the recent mega-deals involving GVC-Bwin and Paddy Power-Betfair.
The owners apparently are betting that the company's rapid growth will make it an appealing acquisition for private equity groups or industry majors like Amaya, 888 Holdings or William Hill.
Based on valuations of its U.K. rivals, Tipico might fetch between Euro1 billion to Euro 1.5 billion, WSJ surmises.
Tipico is Germany's largest privately-owned sports betting company with around Euro 500 million in net revenue or Euro 2.5 billion in processed bets annually — nearly half of the domestic market.
The company is headquartered in Malta, and offers in-store and online sports bets and casino games. In addition to holding a leading position in the German market, it also offers betting in countries such as Denmark, Belgium and Austria.
The Journal observes that Germany's confusing and non-EU compliant gambling laws could keep away potential buyers or encourage them to demand a discounted price.
Tipico holds one of the contentious Schleswig-Holstein state licenses, and is one of several gambling companies currently litigating against the German federal licensing setup.
Martin Ruttig, honorary law professor at the Cologne Fresenius University and lawyer at German law firm CBH, told the WSJ: "Sports-betting agencies aren't actually allowed to offer bets over the Internet or in stores outside Schleswig Holstein — but everyone, including the big players — does it."
"If the process of handing out licenses has to be redone and Tipico gets a license to operate in all German states, it would make Tipico a particularly attractive target for foreign rivals," The Journal notes.
The stakes are high – Germany is one of the fastest growing European markets with annual revenue of at least Euro 4.5 billion last year, according to German industry association DSWV.
Goldmedia believes the market is even larger, and has pointed out that the unregulated online and retail sports-betting market in Germany, reaped revenues of Euro 6.6 billion in 2012 and accounted for more than 90 percent of all sports bets in the country.
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