Amaya CEO offers to take the company private for $2.8B

The chairman and chief executive of Amaya Inc. has told the company's board of directors that he's interested in buying out other shareholders for $21 per share in cash — 40 per cent above the Friday closing price.
No reason for Amaya CEO David Baazov's offer to buy the entire company was given. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

The CEO and chairman of Montreal-based online gaming company Amaya says he wants to buy out shareholders for $21 a share, a 40 per cent premium to Friday's close.

Although it is not yet a formal offer David Baazov has made the offer which values the company at $2.8 billion, and the company's board of directors has set up a special committee, headed by lead independent director Dave Gadhia, to review any concrete proposals brought forward, including any other alternative offers.

"The particular form and structure of the transaction have not been determined, and no discussions have commenced between Mr. Baazov and Amaya with respect to any particular transaction," said a news release issued in Baazov's name," a press release from Baazov reads.

Baazov currently owns 24.6 million common shares of Amaya, representing about 18.6 percent of the outstanding common shares, and has options to buy another 550,000.

Amaya, a Montreal-based company that owns PokerStars and various other online gaming businesses, didn't provide a reason for Baazov's proposal.

But word of the offer sent Amaya shares soaring on the TSX on Monday, up almost 30 per cent to $19.15.

The company's stock hasn't recovered since plunging from above $31 in early November after it lowered its financial expectations for 2015.

Amaya's stock hit a 52-week low of $13.73 last week and closed Friday at $14.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Amaya transformed its business in the summer of 2014 when it bought Oldford Group, parent company of the Rational Group, which operates PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Its poker brands have 97 million registered players around the world.

Trading activity surrounding the deal came under scrutiny by Quebec's securities regulator in December 2014 but no allegations have been made by Autorite des marches financiers, which declines to comment.

Amaya has said it has discovered no evidence of wrongdoing by its employees.

With files from The Canadian Press


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