Private Equity Firm Boosts Ownership Stake In Amaya Inc

Blackstone's credit arm takes up a further 11 million common shares

The credit arm of U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP has boosted its ownership stake in online gambling group Amaya Inc., according to a report in the Globe and Mail Monday.
GSO Capital Partners LP revealed that a group of funds that are either managed or advised by it have acquired 11 million common shares of the Montreal-based Amaya in an exercise of warrants acquired by GSO Funds in 2014. The price paid was 1 cent a share.
The shares were acquired for investment purposes and to enable GSO to exercise voting rights, the company explained.
GSO Funds will have beneficial ownership of 20 percent of Amaya's common shares with the exercise of the warrants, according to a company statement.
It is not yet clear whether the move is related to the ambition of suspended Amaya CEO David Baazov to take the business private in a $2.8 billion transaction.
Baazov is on voluntary leave of absence pending the resolution of his insider trading problems with the Quebec financial regulator Autorité des marchés financiers.
Blackstone was a key financial backer of Amaya's surprise $4.9-billion acquisition of PokerStars' parent company, Oldford Group Ltd. in 2014.
In a separate development, Amaya spokesman Eric Hollreiser said on Monday that the company's annual shareholders' meeting has been pushed back to June 28 from June 9. Hollreiser said the postponement was to give the company more time to prepare.
Amaya shares moved upward by 1.24 percent on the Blackstone news, reaching $17.17 a share, a welcome reversal of a generally downward trend recently that has seen the stock decline 38.84 percent since September 17, 2015.

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