Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

David Baazov, president and chief executive officer of gaming company Amaya Inc, stands prior to their annual general meeting in Montreal, June 22, 2015.


David Baazov, the Canadian entrepreneur who masterminded his modest gambling tech company's takeover of the world's dominant player in online poker just 18 months ago, now wants to take the business private in an all-cash $2.8-billion deal.

Mr. Baazov, chairman and chief executive officer of Montreal-based Amaya Inc. – owner of the popular PokerStars brand – said in a news release on Monday that he and an unnamed group of investors, with whom he is "in discussions," plan to make a takeover offer for all the shares of the company at $21 a share, for a total valuation of about $2.8-billion.

If a proposed offer at that price were to be made, it would represent a 40-per-cent premium to Amaya's closing price on Friday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Story continues below advertisement

Amaya's shares soared more than 27 per cent to $19 in early trading Monday in Toronto then eased back to $18.00, or 20 per cent, a sign of market sentiment that the potential offer is too low at $21.

No talks have so far been held between Mr. Baazov and Amaya, "the particular form and structure of the transaction have not been determined" and there is no guarantee that a transaction will go ahead or be consummated, the news release said. Mr. Baazov declined to comment to The Globe and Mail.

Amaya confirmed on Monday it has received a "non-binding indication" from Mr. Baazov of a planned bid and said it has set up a special committee of independent directors to review "any proposal that may be forthcoming, as well as other alternatives that may become available to Amaya."

Mr. Baazov currently owns 18.6 per cent of the outstanding shares of Amaya and options to buy 550,000 more shares, his news release said.

Craig Levett, a Montreal businessman who was an initial investor with Mr. Baazov in a predecessor company to Amaya, said in an interview that news of the intention to take Amaya private surprised him and that he is not involved in any partnership talks with Mr. Baazov.

Taking Amaya private would be "logical thing to do. I think the stock is undervalued. When people see a stock as undervalued, why not take it private?" he said, adding that he does not know whom Mr. Baazov is in talks with about a potential transaction.

In 2014, U.S. private equity giant Blackstone Group LP's credit arm, GSO Capital Partners, was a key financial backer of Amaya's surprise $4.9-billion (U.S.) takeover of PokerStars' parent company, Oldford Group Ltd.

Story continues below advertisement

But Amaya, which has been counting on the legalization of online gambling in major American states as a significant part of its growth strategy, has been hit recently by the negative impact of the strong U.S. dollar on its overseas – mainly European – customers as well as delays in the rollout of a new online sportsbook.

Last November, the company – which says it has 97 million registered players around the world – slashed its revenue and profit outlook for 2015. And last month it was hit with an $870-million verdict against it in Kentucky for alleged losses by state residents who played PokerStars games from 2006 to 2011. The decision is being appealed.

The stock price plummeted from the $37 (Canadian) range about a year ago to a low of $13.73 last week.

Amaya also faces the largest insider-trading investigation in Canadian history. Quebec's securities watchdog is leading a global probe into allegations that individuals with privileged information traded in Amaya shares ahead of the PokerStars deal.

A search warrant filed in Quebec court last year shows that the Autorité de marchés financiers (AMF) seized computers, e-mails and phone records from three Amaya executives, including Mr. Baazov, chief financial officer Daniel Sebag and an unnamed manager. Documents and materials were also obtained from three employees at Canaccord Genuity Securities and from 15 brokers in the Montreal offices of Manulife Securities.

Amaya has stated the investigation does not relate to personal trading by Mr. Baazov or Mr. Sebag.

Story continues below advertisement

Amaya and Canaccord have said they discovered no evidence of wrongdoing by employees and executives named in the AMF probe. The AMF has received a report from Manulife on its brokers' trading in Amaya stock and Manulife has said it is co-operating with regulators.

Amaya's share price nearly doubled in heavy trading before the June, 2014, announcement of the PokerStars deal and doubled again to more than $30 a share after the news broke.

Desjardins Securities analyst Maher Yaghi said in a research note Monday that while Mr. Baazov's planned offer might appear as potentially opportunistic to some observers, "it is worth pointing out that the continued strength in the U.S. dollar is a potential headwind for the company's European poker business. In addition, the company's elevated leverage in an environment of increasing credit spreads is another factor for shareholders to consider."

The potential offer is "below our fundamental valuation" of $28.50, he said.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies