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Optimal Payments to Buy Skrill Group for $1.2 Billion

- March 23, 2015 By Oliver Young -

rsz_neteller-skrill

Optimal Payments has agreed to pay $1.2 billion for its competitor the Skrill Group.

Optimal Payments Plc, a London stock exchange listed company, announced that it is buying the Skrill Group for an enterprise value of $1.2 billion (about €1.1 billion). Skrill Group is the maker of one of the most popular casino payment methods – the Skrill e-wallet. This wallet is also considered to be the biggest competitor to Optimal Payment Neteller business.

Optimal Payments chief executive, Joel Leonoff, said that the US gaming market was “just reopening and re-evolving.” Therefore, the company sees the deal as a chance to expand its online payment services and reduce dependence on several large customers. Leonoff also added that they are hoping to see US states such as California and Pennsylvania to “come online” and help them establish as a “very relevant supplier to the industry.”

This statement come as no surprise and it makes sense since it is known that several US states including New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have already legalised remote gambling. The land based casinos earnings have been stagnating for a while now and iGaming is seen as a way of boosting tax revenues.

Two Competitors One Owner

If the deal which was announced only hours ago turns into reality, then two big competitors would have the same owner. The Skrill Group is one of the largest pre-paid online providers in Europe and it reported an amazing profit of $89 million last year. Besides the e-wallet Skrill, another Skrill’s product widely used by online casino players is the pre-paid voucher Paysafecard.

However, also Optimal Payments can be proud of its e-wallet Neteller which boosted the company’s results over the last year. Approximately 27% of the earnings came from North America and it is accepted at many online casinos.

After the news hit the public, Optimal’s stocks grew from 700 pence to 900 pence. Numis analyst Ivor Jones wrote a note saying that the deal has brought major competitor on board and has sharply reduced the exposure to Asia.

Following the announcement, trading in shares in Optimal Payments were suspended and closed at 418.75 pence. The company has been valued at £674 million (around $1 billion).

What’s the Deal Between Optimal Payments and the Skrill Group?

According to the information given by the two parties, Optimal Payments is taking over Sentinel Topco Ltd and all of its units, which are known to online players as the Skrill Group. The Skrill Group now belongs to Sentinel Group Holdings, which is owned by Investcorp Technology Partners, a private equity firm CVC and some other shareholders.

Optimal is set to pay €720 million in cash and issue 37.5m shares to owners whose total value is set at €135 million. Sentinel Group Holdings will have a 7.9% stake in the firm.
Taken into account the €256 million net debt of Skrill, Optimal Payments would pay a total price of approximately €1.1 billion. The deal is expected to be completed by the 3rd quarter of 2015.

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