In its December magazine, Forbes has profiled Amaya Gaming Group CEO David Baazov, detailing his bold 2014 acquisition of privately held poker operator Rational Group (owners of PokerStars and Full Tilt). The magazine labels the young CEO of Amaya Gaming Group, as the new ‘king of online gambling’ having pulled off an incredible industry coup.
The profile piece written by Forbes Staff Editor Nathan Vardi, recounts how Baazov had been eyeing Rational Group operations and governance for several months prior to making his move. It further details investment negotiations between Baazov and strategic investment fund Blackstone GSO who would invest $1 billion in the acquisition deal, its biggest ever investment commitment.
In August Amaya Gaming completed the acquisition of the Rational Group for $4.9 billion, a deal that would shock the online gambling industry. Baazov the founder of Amaya Gaming had spearheaded the acquisition investment for the purchase Rational Group by selling approximately $1.7 billion of Amaya Gaming stock at $18.
Forbes labels the $4.9 billion acquisition of the Rational Group the market leaders in online poker as one of 2014’s most interesting tech buyouts. At the start of 2014, publicly traded Amaya Gaming had revenues of $150 million and a share price of less than $7. The purchase of Rational Group enterprises who at the time reported $1.1 billion in revenues seemed like futile hope by Amaya Gaming and Baazov.
Nevertheless through sheer determination, luck and intelligence Baazov managed to not only raise the capital needed for the corporate acquisition, but further convince PokerStars owners the Scheinberg family to sell its firm to the little known but ambitious Amaya Gaming Group.
The acquisition of Rational Group has catapulted Amaya Gaming Group share price from $7.00 to $28.50 (peak November $38.78). Baazov himself has further proved to be a real winner in the negotiations, with his 12% stake in Amaya Gaming now valued at + $800 million.
The igaming and sports betting industry will further await the highly anticipated launch of Amaya Gaming’s sports betting and casino product, as the firm looks to broaden its online gambling product inventory.