Hot copy: Stories that caught our eye this week from around the sector

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Goldman Sacks 6% of global workforce

According to Sky News, globally renowned investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to cut around 3,200 jobs as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

The bank is currently undertaking its biggest cost-saving programme since the global financial crash, Sky said, and the jobs of its more than 6,000 UK-based employees may now be at risk as a result.

Goldman’s net profit dropped by 44% in the first nine months of this financial year, Sky pointed out, after a post-Covid pandemic market boom quickly dried up.

More than a third of the cuts are expected to take place from the firm’s core trading and banking units, while total job losses are expected to run to some 6% of the firm’s total global workforce of around 49,000.

Goldman’s earnings per share is expected to have dropped around 8% year-on-year in Q4 2022, with its final financial results to be published next week.

Unlike some other firms, Goldman continued recruiting throughout pandemic-affected times and “in 2020 paused its routine firing of the least productive employees,” Sky reported.

Staff have been braced for bad news since the end of last year, however, when chief executive David Solomon told them in an audio message: “There are a variety of factors impacting the business landscape, including tightening monetary conditions that are slowing down economic activity.”

One might suppose that’s investment banker-speak for “brace yourselves.”

No longer Fanatical about NFTs

Following on from last week’s story on worthless NFTs, it seems another business has conceded that the digital collectibles’ value isn’t all it cracked up to be.

According to CNBC, sports merchandising giant and soon-to-be sports betting operator Fanatics is divesting its 60% stake in NFT company Candy Digital.

Fanatics will offload its majority stake in the business to an investor group led by crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital.

Candy Digital was formed amid a sports NFT boom in June 2021, quickly signing a multi-year licensing agreement with Major League Baseball to produce NFTs related to the league.

It also released digital collectibles in collaboration with Netflix series Stranger Things, WWE and several Nascar teams.

CNBC reported that sports NFTs had proved no more resilient than other digital collectibles over the past year or so, and fell victim to the ‘crypto winter’ which has seen the price of NFT collectibles fall in line with their actual practical value – that is to say, close to zero.

While it was not revealed what price Fanatics will receive on its divestment, CEO Dave Rubin wrote: “Divesting our ownership stake at this time allowed us to ensure investors were able to recoup most of their investment via cash or additional shares in Fanatics – a favourable outcome for investors, especially in an imploding NFT market that has seen precipitous drops in both transaction volumes and prices for standalone NFTs.”

Rubin went on to say that the decision to offload its holding in the business was a “rather straightforward and easy decision for us to make for several reasons,” the principle of which presumably being that someone, somewhere within the company realised that the digital collectibles constituted little more than a 21st century Ponzi scheme.

And the news holds little hope for those still holding onto their near-worthless assets and praying for a turnaround in their value.

If Rubin’s assessment that “over the past year, it has become clear that NFTs are unlikely to be sustainable or profitable as a standalone business,” proves correct, then NFT owners may end up waiting forever for a return on their ‘investments’.

Return of the IPOs

The latest potential gambling IPO hit the headlines this week as Bloomberg revealed that Italian gambling giant Lottomatica is considering a float on the Italian Stock Exchange.

The operator is backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, and could raise around $1bn by listing its shares in Italy.

The listing could take place as soon as Q2 this year, and the firm is considering seeking a valuation of around $5bn including debt, according to sources close to the matter.

Lottomatica is currently working with banks including UniCredit SpA as it evaluates the listing.

Bloomberg pointed out that “Europe’s IPO market effectively shut last year as rising interest rates and heightened inflation pushed investors into risk-off mode,” but that the pent up demand created as a result could help push listings through in the coming months.

Lottomatica is active across Italy’s poker, iGaming, sports betting and land-based slot markets. 

It is the largest Italian group in the public gambling sector and was the first to be authorised to offer gambling by Italy’s Customs and Monopoly Agency.

The business boasts 1,600 employees and generates around €1.4bn in revenue, according to its website.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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