Ladbrokes owner Entain has offered to buy Swedish betting operator Enlabs.
Entain PLC, formerly known as GVC Holdings, announced the offer on Thursday (January 7) via its subsidiary Bwin Holdings. The gambling giant proposed a buyout of Enlabs AB for around $343 million, offering 40 SEK for each Enlabs share.
As reported by Intergameonline, the Independent Bid Committee of Enlabs has recommended the acceptance of the cash offer. Chairman Niklas Braathen and board member Christian Haupt are accepting the offer and Enlabs shareholders with more than 42% of all of Enlabs’ shares have undertaken to accept the offer already.
The acceptance period for the offer is expected to begin around January 21, 2021, and will reportedly expire on February 18, 2021.
Entain has said that the buyout would allow Enlabs to accelerate its growth within existing markets and its expansion into new markets like Ukraine and Belarus through the company’s tech. The gambling giant will reportedly finance the cash from existing sources and expects the takeover to complete within the first quarter of 2021.
Entain CEO Shay Segev said of the offer: “The acquisition of Enlabs is perfectly aligned with our strategy of expanding across new regulated international markets. We are hugely excited by the growth opportunities it presents both in its existing markets and through new market opportunities.”
He continued: “Enlabs is already a strong and rapidly growing business in its own right, but we now have a fantastic opportunity to turbocharge its growth by leveraging the power of our unparalleled proprietary technology, scale, product, and marketing expertise.”
Should the offer go through, Enlabs, which owns gambling brands Optibet, Laimz, and Bestpoker, has confirmed that it intends to keep current Enlabs board chairman Niklas Braathen to continue developing the company’s operations across Nordic and Baltic regions as well as its expansion into new markets in Eastern Europe.
Speaking about the offer, Braathen said: “When Entain’s interest to acquire Enlabs emerged, we instantly saw the strategic logic. Our interaction with them so far has confirmed they will provide an excellent home for the company, its customers and employees.
“Entain’s experience and track record in many different geographic markets, together with its market-leading proprietary technology and world-class marketing skills are key attractions for Enlabs as we look to grow in the Baltics and Beyond.”
He added: “Finally, Enlabs has achieved an enormous amount as an independent business, but we recognise the established trend of industry consolidation and the growing importance of scale.”
The news comes several days after US casino operator MGM Resorts International proposed an $11 billion takeover of Entain, an offer the gambling giant says “significantly undervalues the company and its prospects”.
As we reported earlier this week, Entain’s board responded by asking MGM Resorts International to provide more information “in respect of the strategic rationale for a combination of the two companies.”
Back in December, Enlabs issued a statement pledging its commitment to the Swedish market after voluntarily revoking its licenses for the online gambling and betting within the region.
As reported by CasinoBeats, the gambling operator said in a statement that the Swedish market remains a “great interest” for the company and explained that the reason it has ceased operations is to introduce the Pay & Play solution to its platform which allows users to deposit money without registration.
Enlabs, which has already started internal development work for the solution, hopes to implement the solution by the summer of 2021 ahead of the launch of several planned new gambling brands.
Enlabs President and Chief Executive George Ustinov told iGamingBusiness: “The Swedish market is of great interest to Enlabs. However, our platform currently lacks support for so-called ‘Pay & Play’, which is absolutely necessary for some of the brands we intend to launch in Sweden.
“The internal development work has already begun, and we believe we have technology, licenses and organisation with a clear marketing plan for the launch fo several of our most important brands, in place by the summer of 2021.”
Back in August 2020, Enlabs acquired a majority stake in Ninja Casino operator Global Gaming which previously operated in Sweden before Spelinspektionen revoked its license in June 2019 after discovering “serious deficiencies” in its business practices.
Enlabs earned a Swedish gambling license from regulator Spelinspektionen for its flagship Optibet brand back in March 2020. Now that it has revoked its license, Enlabs’ services will be unavailable until later this summer when the company plans on reapplying for a license as a group company to cover all of its brands.
The company has stated that its current operations in the Swedish market are “small” and that pulling out of the region will only have a marginal impact on its earnings.
Enlabs currently operates in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and is pursuing an operating license for Ukraine after the country legalised all gambling activities last year as well as expansion into Belarus.
Also in December 2020, Enlabs made headlines after appointing Jelena Nisa as its new group CFO. Nisa, who holds a bachelor degree in economics and accounting, has worked with the operator since 2016 as Group Head of Accounting but was promoted to Group Chief Financial Officer in December.
Speaking about Nisa’s appointment as CFO, CEO George Ustinov said in a statement: “The new appointment is a logical continuation of Jelena’s professional career. She brings high financial competence, strong analytical and organisational skills and exceptional attention to detail.
“I welcome Jelena to the senior management team and look forward to achieving new heights,” he added.