Quebec-based gaming equipment and systems company Amaya Gaming is planning to purchase online poker giant PokerStars in a deal with $1-billion in financing provided by private equity firm Blackstone, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Amaya‘s stock has surged 77 per cent this year, and 28 per cent over the past two days before being halted Thursday afternoon at $14.08 on rumours of the impending acquisition.
The company declined to comment on the prospective deal, which Bloomberg said could be announced as soon as Thursday.
The deal would bring together two Canadian gaming giants. While PokerStars is located on the Isle of Man for tax and legal reasons, its secretive founder, Isai Scheinberg, splits his time between there and Richmond Hill. Mr. Scheinberg remains under indictment in the U.S. for alleged bank fraud and money laundering in connection to processing transfers for PokerStars players. According to Canadian Business, he charters a private jet between the Isle of Man and Richmond Hill to avoid unscheduled landings in the US.
In 2012 PokerStars reached a settlement with the Justice Department for its money-laundering charges, agreeing to pay $731-million. PokerStars’ legal battles have made acquisitions difficult for it in the past. In August 2013 a deal fell through for the company to purchase a distressed brick-and-mortar casino in Atlantic City. The company was hoping that the purchase would help PokerStars establish itself in a state where online poker became legal in November, 2013.
Amaya’s revenue in 2013 was $155-million.