Stride Gaming Expands With Three New Acquisitions

London AIM-listed online gambling group acquires two online bingo enterprises and a marketing company

The UK online gambling group Stride Gaming has announced the acquisition of rival online bingo operators Tarco and 8Ball, and marketing company Netboost Media for a total of up to GBP 70 million, as it continues to roll out its plan to double market share in the UK and become the fourth largest online bingo operator.
The group has agreed to acquire the assets of Tarco Limited plus the entire issued share capital of Netboost Media Limited (a marketing business that services the Tarco Assets) for up to GBP 40.2 million, and the entire issued share capital of 8Ball Games Limited for up to GBP 30 million.
The acquisitions will be partly funded by a placing of shares at 225p per share, raising GBP 27 million the company said Thursday; the remainder of the consideration will provided by the issue of new shares and from the company's cash resources.
Shares in Stride closed at 285p Thursday night on the London AIM.
In a company statement Stride said that acquisitions are expected to enhance earnings in the first full-year of ownership, even before synergies kick in. Once the customary earn-out period, during which previous ownership is rewarded should the acquired businesses hit certain targets, Stride envisages achieving cost synergies of around GBP 2.5 million and revenue synergies of around GBP 3 million.
Since GAL Holdings, a substantial shareholder of Stride, is interested in the shares of Tarco and Netboost Media, while Stride directors Eitan Boyd and Darren Sims are interested in the shares of Tarco, the Tarco and Netboost Media acquisitions each constitute a related party transaction under AIM rules.
Tarco is an online bingo operator with a 3 percent market share of the UK online bingo market and has over 63,000 active players. In this part of the deal the initial consideration is GBP 16 million, of which GBP 7.7million will be paid in cash while the rest will be covered by the issue of shares.
The earn-out consideration could be as much as GBP 22 million, payable in a mix of 51 percent cash and 49 percent shares, the company revealed.
8Ball, an online bingo operator with a 2 percent market share of the UK online bingo market, has more than 60,000 active players.
It is being acquired for an initial consideration of GBP 12 million in cash, though that could rise to GBP 30 million as a result of earn-out targets. The GBP 18 million potential earn-out is payable in a mixture of cash and shares, with the first GBP 3 million to be satisfied in cash with the remainder being satisfied on a 40/60 cash/shares basis.
The company revealed it is also in discussions with a first tier bank for a GBP 8 million term loan facility which would mature four years from the date of initial draw-down.
"I am delighted by the proposed acquisition of these leading gaming companies, which expedite our ambition to build Stride Gaming into the market leader in the soft gaming vertical of the online gaming industry," said Eitan Boyd, chief executive of Stride Gaming, noting that the 105 brands of the enlarged group will represent over 25 percent of the UK online bingo market from a number of sites perspective.
"With a medium-term objective to increase our market share to 15 -20 percent of the UK online bingo market, we will seek to expand our presence in existing verticals not only in the UK but also in international regulated markets, as well as look to enter into other soft gaming verticals such as online lotteries and scratch cards," Boyd revealed.
The two groups being acquired by Stride generated a combined net gaming revenue of GBP 27 million in the 12 months to May 2016 and adjusted underlying earnings of GBP 4.6 million, giving an initial purchase price that is 6.5 times the blended EBITDA.

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