Addiction ails Africa
Bloomberg this week reported that “online gambling has millions of young Africans battling addiction.”
The article paints a stark picture of gambling addiction across several African jurisdictions, where a lack of regulatory oversight allows international operators to bend rules and low incomes often see customers turn to gambling in desperation.
It tells the stories of several individuals, including 15-year-old Brave Luhanga, who shouldn’t legally be allowed to place bets at his local PremierBet outlet in Lilongwe, Malawi, but regularly does anyway.
In impoverished communities, the piece explains, shops like PremierBet may be the only place in town to have air conditioning, comfortable surroundings and televisions, and as such have come to act as social hubs for many inhabitants.
Around 90% of Malawi’s population earns less than $4 per day, according to the World Bank, and a lack of job opportunities can also lead many to gamble money they don’t have in the hopes of escaping the cycle of poverty.
The problem is not just limited to Malawi, of course, and the article goes on to describe how in places such as Kenya, “it’s reached the point where people bet like it’s a religion.”
In response, many are working to combat the worst effects of gambling harm taking place across the continent, but with little to no government backing and extremely limited funds, they face an uphill struggle.
One man running a clinic for addiction in Nairobi suggested that gambling companies market irresponsibly in Africa, presenting it as “something to make you rich, like a legitimate business,” rather than simple entertainment.
This, among myriad other factors, has led to an explosion in gambling across Africa over the past 10 years, the full effects of which still remain to be seen.
While many international operators view African markets as their next major growth drivers, many believe they should first consider the human cost of their profits.
Readers are encouraged to read this in-depth and well researched article in full, to better understand the impact gambling companies are having across the African continent.
Taking the plunge
Moving back to the UK now, as ITV News reported this week on a Belfast woman who found cold water swimming to be “the key to her recovery” from gambling addiction.
Sarah Boyd began playing online slots after being tempted by generous introductory bonuses, but quickly found her level of spending increased from just £20 per month to her entire monthly salary.
“When I look back, I can never see the line of difference of where that crossed over and I think that is what’s so dangerous about online slots. Maybe it is just starting as a hobby but it’s very hard to tell the difference of when it changes from a hobby into an addiction,” she said.
Gambling addiction soon began to exacerbate existing mental health challenges for Sarah, including anxiety and depression, and she even attempted twice to take her own life as a result.
“I felt very, very alone and hopeless… and when I came here to do cold water swimming it was so refreshing,” she said.
Now, the cold water is helping to wash away her struggles with mental health, she suggests, and she is determined to spread greater awareness around the dangers of online gambling.
She also hopes to encourage anyone struggling with addiction to take the plunge into cold water and see if it can help them too.
That’s certainly one way of putting the freeze on an out-of-control gambling habit.
DraftKings looking for targets?
A quick foray into M&A now, as the Financial Times reports that DraftKings held early-stage talks with 888 shareholders over a possible takeover last summer.
The FT suggested that the talks were “a sign of the increasing dominance of US operators in the betting industry, and how their financial firepower may yet drive a further wave of consolidation in the sector.”
Apparently, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins had spoken to Kenny Alexander-led consortium FS Gaming last June and July, about making a possible all-stock offer to take over 888 and its subsidiaries.
At the time, FS Gaming was a top-five 888 shareholder, and the FT suggests that DraftKings’ interest in acquiring 888 “underlines the expansion ambitions of US betting operators.”
According to the article, DraftKings walked away from the talks after the Gambling Commission revealed it had placed 888’s licence under review.
In addition to that, 888’s £1.7bn debt pile represented another major hurdle to be overcome in any potential acquisition talks.
Following the publication of its Q3 results last week, DraftKings CEO Robins declined to comment on any discussions of a takeover.
“888 is one we’re aware of, we’ve certainly watched it over the years, I know there’s been quite a twisty, turny story,” he said, adding “I don’t even think 888 is up for sale at this point.”
And, in response to a FT request for comment on the matter, DraftKings said it was “focused on the massive US opportunity in front of us.”
A top-10 888 shareholder told the paper, however, that they would have taken an all-stock DraftKings acquisition offer “very seriously.”
While this particular deal may have fallen through, it does suggest DraftKings could have at least one eye outside the US market.
Sports media specialist LiveScore Group has acquired South African software development specialist Wonderlabz in an undisclosed deal.
LiveScore Group, which operates its flagship LiveScore sports content brand as well as B2C brands LiveScore Bet and Virgin Bet, said the acquisition adds “significant scale” to the group “at a time of substantial growth.”
The addition of Wonderlabz will accelerate the process of product development and increase the group’s ability to expand into further key territories, it added.
Wonderlabz is a software development firm offering a player account management (PAM) system called Lithium as well as a back-office platform, and is home to “renowned software talent and engineers,” according to LiveScore Group.
LiveScore previously had a 25% shareholding in the business, which “played a vital role in the evolution of the app and digital platforms for LiveScore Group’s key brands including LiveScore and LiveScore Bet.”
Through the acquisition, LiveScore has increased its holding in Wonderlabz to 100% and added more than 100 new staff to its global headcount.
The deal “substantially increases the group’s in-house capability and establishes a new tech hub in an emerging market,” LiveScore said.
The deal comes a little over a year after the announcement of a £50m strategic investment into LiveScore Group from Swiss-based media and tech company Ringier AG.
“I’m thrilled to announce our acquisition of Wonderlabz, one of the most exciting businesses in the global software development space,” said LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi (pictured left).
“We have grown our relationship with the fantastic people and experts at Wonderlabz over many years, and their stand-out Lithium PAM platform has played a critical role in the ongoing success of our industry-leading convergence strategy.
“I’m personally excited to work even closer with the team in Cape Town to help continue to develop a world-class tech hub in the area, one which increases the technical capability of our business and will fuel the potential for further growth,” Sadi concluded.
Wonderlabz CEO Ben Johansen (pictured right) added: “This is a hugely exciting day for Wonderlabz, as we officially join the pioneering LiveScore Group family.
“Over recent years we have built an outstanding business centred on world-class software development talent, working with the likes of LiveScore Group to develop industry-leading tech solutions.
“There is no doubt that in LiveScore Group, we join one of the most forward-thinking and innovative businesses in the sports media and betting worlds. I cannot wait for our people to continue playing a key role in what comes next.”
Better Collective has agreed to acquire Toronto-based sports media group Playmaker Capital for a total price consideration of €176m.
This marks Better Collective’s second largest acquisition to date after the affiliate business acquired Action Network for $240m in 2021.
Playmaker Capital operates a strong portfolio of sports media brands across the Americas.
The transaction is expected to close before the end of Q1 2024.
Once completed, Better Collective anticipates it will become Latam market leader, while also strengthening its position the US.
Playmaker’s leadership team have agreed to stay on to help drive the business forward.
Shares in Better Collective were trading more than 7% higher on the news.
Better Collective co-founder and CEO Jesper Søgaard (pictured) described the acquisition as “transformational” for Better Collective.
“Upon closing of the acquisition, we will significantly grow our audience and reach a larger segment of generalist sports fans,” Søgaard said.
“For years, Playmaker Capital has built incredibly strong sports media brands and excited sports fans across the Americas with high-quality sports content, cultivating a loyal and dedicated following.
“The skilled team behind Playmaker Capital brings a unique set of media competencies that will boost our organisation. Saying that I am excited to welcome the new team to the Better Collective group would be an understatement,” he added.
Playmaker Capital at a glance
Headquartered in Toronto, Playmaker Capital’s shares are listed on both the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada and the OTCQX in the US.
Playmaker Capital owns and operates prominent sports media brands such as Futbol Sites, Yardbarker and The Nation Network.
The company also operates Wedge, a paid media division with a core focus on the US market, which will be integrated into Better Collective’s paid media division.
Playmaker’s combined portfolio of digital sports media brands attracts a monthly average of more than 200 million visits.
It also has a social media following of more than 180 million across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter).
As at Q3 2023, Playmaker Capital has trailing 12-month revenue of €55m and EBITDA of €15m.
That implies an EV/EBITDA multiple of 11.7x, which Better Collective expects to bring down to below 5x by 2026e.
Prior to the transaction, Better Collective had formed several media partnerships with some of Playmaker Capital’s premier sports media brands.
Consequently, Better Collective said it has already established an extensive understanding of and insight into the quality of Playmaker’s brands.
Playmaker Capital co-founder and CEO Jordan Gnat commented: “Over the past 12 months I have been talking a lot about a transformational deal for Playmaker and its shareholders that will take this company to the next level.
“Today’s announcement does exactly that, and I could not be more excited for the Playmaker family to join the Better Collective family. Their success is undeniable and their vision to become the leading digital sports media group aligns with us exactly.
“The cultures of our companies are very similar, and I see the integration and synergies to be incredibly accretive to shareholders.”
Better Collective and Playmaker Capital said they both stand to benefit from the increased scale of the combined business as well as higher levels of product, technology, and marketing investments.
Better Collective also has the opportunity to extend its reach among generalist sports fans in the Americas and strengthen its position in South America.
The acquisition also presents the chance to enhance Better Collective’s portfolio through the implementation of performance-based marketing approaches across the acquired sports media.
Furthermore, the companies expect significant operational synergies, leading to more efficient processes and improved monetisation prospects for both entities.
As part of this transaction, shareholders of Playmaker Capital will receive a total consideration of C$0.70 per share. This consideration is a combination of cash and shares from Better Collective.
Playmaker Capital’s shareholders will have the option to choose between receiving C$0.70 in cash or 0.0206 shares of Better Collective for each Playmaker Capital common share.
However, this choice is subject to proration and is limited to 65% shares in Better Collective and 35% in cash.
Playmaker Capital shareholders who do not elect cash or shares of Better Collective will receive a default consideration of C$0.245 in cash (35%) and 0.0134 shares of Better Collective (65%) per Playmaker Capital common share.
Share issuance and dilution
The total aggregate share consideration will involve up to 3,100,880 shares of Better Collective.
This will be settled partially by transferring 1,387,580 treasury shares and up to 1,713,300 newly issued shares.
The number of newly issued shares will be determined based on the volume-weighted average price of Better Collective shares over the ten-day trading period just before the signing of the definitive agreement.
This average price amounts to SEK270.48 per share, which is equivalent to C$33.94 per share.
With the issuance of new Better Collective shares, the total outstanding number of Better Collective shares will be up to 56,937,147. This issuance will result in a dilution of existing Better Collective shareholders by 3.1%.
The cash portion of the consideration will be funded using existing cash from the balance sheet and established bank credit facilities.
The two largest shareholders of Playmaker Capital – Relay Ventures and JPG Investments, a holding company owned by Playmaker Capital CEO Jordan Gnat – together hold 24% of all outstanding Playmaker Capital common shares.
JPG Investments will convert a portion of its Playmaker Capital common shares into Better Collective shares, with an expected consideration split of roughly 75% in Better Collective shares and 25% in cash.
Both shareholders have signed lock-up agreements that prevent them from selling their Better Collective shares for a specified period.
The closing of the transaction is subject to approval from Playmaker Capital shareholders, court approval, regulatory clearances, and other customary closing conditions for transactions of this nature.
However, the directors, officers, and certain shareholders of Playmaker Capital, collectively representing 49.8% of Playmaker Capital’s outstanding common shares, have already agreed to support and vote in favour of the transaction.
Better Collective had said it was on the lookout for acquisition targets after celebrating record Q2 results.
Upon completion of the transaction, Better Collective plans to reassess its long-term financial targets for the period spanning 2023 to 2027.
Italian gambling giant Lottomatica has agreed to acquire 100% of Malta-headquartered operator SKS365 at an enterprise value of €639m.
The deal, which is expected to close during H1 of 2024, will have a purchase price at closing equal to €625m excluding ticking fees, according to Lottomatica.
SKS365 is a major player in the Italian gambling market, operating brands including PlanetWin365 both online and across a retail network of 1,000 betting shops.
The company also operates its own payments division, PlanetPay365, and news portals Calcio.com and PlanetWin365.news.
Lottomatica’s acquisition of the business will put an end to a bidding war between Lottomatica, Flutter Entertainment and Playtech, according to reports in September.
The transaction will be funded by a combination of new debt and available cash, for which Lottomatica already has a €500m debt bridge facility in place.
Combined business synergies
SKS365 is one of the largest gambling brands in Italy, boasting around 600,000 registered users online and a market share of around 9.6% in sports betting and 6.4% in iGaming.
The business is expected to generate €300m in revenue and EBITDA of around €74m in the full-year 2023, with 70% coming from its online operations and 30% from retail.
When combined with Lottomatica’s 21.2% online gambling market share in Italy, the enlarged group is expected to boast a market share of around 28.3% – well ahead of its largest competitors Flutter Entertainment, with 20.1%, Playtech with 9.8% and Entain with 9.5%.
In the sports betting market across both online and retail, the enlarged group is expected to have an even larger market share of 34.7%, putting more distance between itself and its competitors, as Flutter holds 14.8%, Playtech 16.4% and Entain 13.2%.
The business combination is expected to deliver synergies of around €65m by 2027, consisting of €50m in opex synergies, €10m in capex and €5m in revenue synergies.
The transaction is expected to be EPS accretive by 2024, with double-digit EPS growth expected as a result of the deal by 2025.
The enterprise value of the deal, €639m, is the equivalent to 8.7x 2023 EBITDA pre-synergies, or 5.2x 2023 EBITDA post-synergies.
“We are excited to welcome to our group SKS365, a top performing player in the Italian gaming sector and led by one of the most respected management teams in the industry, under the leadership of Alexander Martin,” said Guglielmo Angelozzi, CEO of Lottomatica Group (pictured right).
“We add to our portfolio strong and complementary brands, PlanetWin365 and PlanetPay365, and we look forward to working with Alexander and the team, and we are committed to provide all the support needed in the next phase of growth, leveraging the combined capabilities of the enlarged group.”
SKS365 CEO Martin (pictured left) added: “At SKS365 we are proud to become part of the Lottomatica Group. We could not have found a better partner to continue our vision for SKS365 with the brands PlanetWin365 and PlanetPay365.
“Many thanks to our shareholders, all employees and partners for developing under my leadership a highly successful omni-channel operator with a strong momentum in online sports betting and iGaming that is complementing our strong retail network.”
Lottomatica shareholders appear to have responded positively to the agreement, with shares up some 4% at the time of writing.
Elsewhere, Playtech – a rival bidder in this process – posted a statement to shareholders following Lottomatica’s acquisition announcement.
It said: “The group will continue to take a prudent and rational approach to evaluating selected acquisition opportunities in-line with its strategy to ensure appropriate exposure to attractive segments, both regionally and within product verticals.”
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are hallmarks of the ever-evolving business landscape.
They bring together entities that often possess different cultural dynamics, operational practices, and foundational principles, and as nimble start-ups meet the established might of corporate giants, a delicate dance often ensues.
But, is it fair to expect start-ups – known for their agile and innovative cultures – to find their place within larger, sometimes bureaucratic, corporate cultures?
We sat down with John Goldie, digital M&A specialist at Valament M&A advisory to chat about the benefits of maintaining and harnessing the vivacious spirit of start-ups through the M&A integration process.
The agility of start-up culture
Everyone knows start-up culture is synonymous with agility, innovation, and a hunger to disrupt the status quo. Start-ups often operate with a sense of urgency, where rapid iteration and adaptability are vital.
This culture is characterised by quick decision-making, flat hierarchies, and an openness to new ideas—traits that often attract corporate entities looking for a fresh injection of dynamism into their operations.
In contrast, established corporations, due to their sheer size and legacy, can sometimes be encumbered by bureaucracy, slower decision-making processes, and a resistance to change.
“These attributes, while providing stability, can inhibit innovation” Goldie notes, ” and many of the sellers we work with are meticulous about understanding what life will be like for them and their teams post-acquisition.
“When you merge the dynamism of a start-up with the resources and reach of a corporation, the potential is exponential. The challenge is ensuring the start-up’s essence isn’t diluted in the process,” says Goldie.
Advantages of maintaining start-up culture post-M&A
Independence & autonomy: As the old adage goes; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Typically, buyers are looking for businesses that are thriving and in full-growth, where there will be very little concern for their ability to continue operating successfully on their own.
Maintaining a degree of independence and autonomy post-M&A allows the acquired company to continue leveraging what made them successful in the first place.
Driving innovation: Start-ups are innovation powerhouses. They thrive on challenging conventional wisdom, developing new solutions, and exploring uncharted territories.
Retaining this innovative spirit post-acquisition usually provides the combined entity with a competitive edge.
Employee retention: Employees who join start-ups are often driven by a sense of purpose and the allure of a dynamic work environment. Preserving the start-up culture can help in retaining these talented individuals who might otherwise feel alienated in a more structured corporate setting.
Adaptable business model: In an ever-changing business landscape, the ability to pivot and adapt is crucial. Start-ups excel at this. Post-acquisition, this agility can help the merged entity to quickly respond to market shifts.
Blending the best of both worlds
So, how does one ensure the start-up spirit remains alive and thrives within a larger corporate structure?
“The answer lies in striking a balance—leveraging the strengths of both entities without compromising on what made the start-up unique in the first place,” says Goldie.
Goldie, drawing from Valament’s years of experience planning and overseeing post-acquisition integrations, notes: “The key is great communication and having both parties recognise each other’s strengths. While the corporate side brings in resources, assistance with scaling, and market reach, the start-up contributes innovation, agility, and a fresh perspective.
“The way we see it, the best integrations are those with the most minimal changes to an acquired entity’s chemistry and workflow. As they say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.”
Keeping the independence intact post-M&A
One of the emerging trends in successful M&A is the recognition of the value in letting an acquired company continue to operate independently. The rationale behind this is simple: let companies do what they do best.
This approach embraces the idea that if a company is thriving, it’s doing something right, and it’s essential to keep that momentum going.
“The overarching philosophy here is non-interference,” explains Goldie. “If a company is excelling, it’s due to their unique approach to their business, team dynamics, and organisational culture.
“To retain these aspects, it’s often best to allow them to operate independently, only ensuring high-level communication and regular reporting to keep the buyer informed.”
Clear benefits for the buyer
This hands-off approach offers numerous benefits for the buyer.
It allows the acquired company to maintain its innovative edge, unhindered by new organisational structures or changes in leadership. It helps in retaining the employee base, as they continue to work within a familiar environment.
Furthermore, it promotes the continued growth and success of the company by letting it stick to its proven strategies and operational methodologies.
One of the clear benefits this approach yields for the buyer is the capacity to focus on their core business. By avoiding the complexity and potential turmoil of integration, buyers can concentrate on their own day to-day operations, ensuring stability and growth in their primary areas.
“For the buyer, it’s about balancing oversight with autonomy,” Goldie adds. “It’s about providing support and resources when needed, and stepping back to allow the start-up to continue its natural progression. This balance can lead to optimal outcomes for both parties, fostering growth, innovation, and profitability in the long run.”
Thriving in autonomy: The AdCash journey
When it comes to highlighting the merits of letting an acquired company continue to run independently post-acquisition, the AdCash deal brokered by Valament in 2022 stands out as a sterling example.
“The AdCash deal was a brilliant display of finding balance and synergy,” Goldie shares.
In this transaction, a thriving ad tech business based in Estonia was successfully led through the M&A process by Valament. The objective was clear: ensure that AdCash, even after the acquisition, would continue to operate independently, maintaining the driving forces behind its success.
Fast forward nearly a year, and the decision has proven to be a resounding success. AdCash continues to operate with the same independence and innovative spirit it always had, underlining the effectiveness of the non-interference approach in M&A.
Despite the change in ownership, AdCash has remained true to its roots, allowing the business to flourish, and its growth trajectory has not just remained steady, but has aggressively surged forward.
“It’s about letting the acquired company do what they do best, without interference,” Goldie continues. “AdCash’s continued growth and success post-acquisition are living proof of the practicality of this philosophy in M&A transactions.”
This method has not only allowed AdCash to continue excelling in its field but has also permitted the buying company to focus on its core operations, reaping the benefits of the acquisition without the potential destabilisation that can come with trying to merge two different corporate cultures and operational models.
Goldie concludes: “In essence, the AdCash deal symbolises the epitome of strategic M&A success – a scenario where both entities are enjoying growth, innovation, and profitability, all while respecting each other’s autonomy and unique organisational ethos.”
Charting the course for M&A success
“In the intricate world of M&A, the essence lies in balance and respect post-acquisition,” avows Goldie.
By permitting firms to retain their independence and unique operational styles, the process yields a synergy, where the combined entities enjoy sustained innovation, agility, and growth.
This stance, epitomised by the AdCash transaction, heralds a shift towards a more hands-off approach in mergers and acquisitions.
Mergers and acquisitions are not just financial transactions; they represent the coming together of people, cultures, and visions. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, especially in sectors like iGaming, digital media, and ad tech, the need for agility and innovation has never been higher.
In this context, it’s not just desirable but essential to keep the start-up spirit alive post-acquisition. As Goldie summarises: “In the world of digital transformation, it’s not the big fish which eats the small one; it’s the fast one which outpaces the slow one. And therein lies the true power of integrating the start-up spirit into the M&A process.”
As M&A transactions will continue to be driven by strategic and financial objectives, the reality is that the importance of cultural alignment and integration cannot be overstated.
Put simply, it needs to be a great fit, and as businesses strive to navigate the complexities of the modern digital world, the secret to enduring success probably lies in harnessing the power and dynamism of the start-up spirit.
John Goldie is a senior M&A advisor at Valament, a leading digital M&A advisory specialising in iGaming, digital media, and ad tech.
He has been involved in the digital marketing industry since 2006, both advising on and managing a wide range of strategic acquisitions across different verticals.
His specialties include search engine optimisation, conversion audits/analysis, CRM programmes, as well as business development.
Flutter Entertainment and Playtech are reportedly engaged in a bidding war over SKS365, the operator behind the PlanetWin365 brand.
According to a Sky News story released today, the two London-listed gambling giants are engaged in an auction for the operator, which is expected to fetch between £500m and £600m, per City sources.
Italian gambling group Lottomatica was also reported to be “interested” in acquiring the business.
Originally founded in Austria and now headquartered in Malta, SKS365 operates several brands in Italy’s gambling market, across both the retail and online spaces.
In the land-based sector, PlanetWin365 boasts a significant presence with around 1,000 betting shops across Italy.
The brand is also available online, while SKS365 also operates its own payments division, PlanetPay365, and news portals Calcio.com and PlanetWin365.news.
An auction for the business is reported to be overseen by bankers at global financial services firm Lazard.
In a statement released today, Playtech confirmed it is participating in a process regarding the acquisition of SKS365.
“Playtech is aware that there are other parties who are also participating in the process and who have expressed an interest in acquiring SKS,” it said.
“There can be no certainty that Playtech will be successful in the process nor that any transaction regarding the potential acquisition of SKS will be agreed.”
Further updates are expected from the business “as and when appropriate.”
Flutter is still to comment on the matter.
Both Flutter and Playtech already boast a major presence in the Italian market. In August last year, Flutter completed the acquisition of Italian gambling giant Sisal.
Playtech has had games live in the Italian market since 2012 and also owns and operates Italian omni-channel B2C giant Snaitech.
B2B gaming supplier Push Gaming is set for continued growth, following the completion of its acquisition by LeoVegas Group’s investment arm, LeoVentures, a subsidiary of MGM Resort International (MGMRI).
Push Gaming’s rapid rise to prominence within the highly competitive iGaming industry is based upon its player-first ethos toward slot development. This foundation has seen the production of numerous hugely successful, player-favourite titles including Razor Shark, Jammin’ Jars and Big Bamboo.
These games and its entire diverse portfolio are available to play in regulated markets around the world and with the strength of LeoVegas Group and MGM Resorts International now behind it, the studio is more confident than ever before about its continued growth trajectory.
James Marshall, Push Gaming CEO, said: “We’re extremely proud of the tireless work put in over the years that has allowed us to reach this position as a company. The acquisition is a testament to the talented team we have built along with their skills and industry insight that have led to where we are today.
“While our ownership may be new, Push Gaming will be managed independently by the same leadership and our commitment to creating the ultimate entertainment in gambling games remains unwavering. We’re more determined than ever to ensure that we deliver the very best content that stands the test of time and drives traffic for our operator partners.
“Having the likes of MGMRI and LeoVegas Group behind us is going to open a whole new level of opportunity for us to put our content in front of even more people in a greater number of places globally and this prospect excites us massively.
“It’s business as usual but with an added spring in our step and even wider horizons than before as we take Push Gaming into this new exciting chapter.”
Established as one of the industry’s most entertaining suppliers, Push Gaming is live across the majority of Europe’s key regulated markets with the likes of Bet365, Entain, Tipico, Betway, Betsson, Svenska Spel and Sky Bet.
Affiliate group Better Collective has acquired Tipsbladet.dk, one of Denmark’s leading soccer media outlets.
The acquisition is valued at €6.5m, to be paid in three installments and financed with cash.
Better Collective expects that the post-synergy 2024 EBITDA multiple will be below 5x. The financial targets for 2023 remain unaffected by the acquisition.
As of 2 October, Tipsbladet.dk will officially become part of Better Collective, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Better Collective co-founder and CEO Jesper Søgaard commented: “The acquisition fits perfectly with our vision to become the leading digital sports media group and our strategy to acquire strong media brands with a loyal audience.
“I look very much forward to welcoming the dedicated editorial team at Tipsbladet to the Better Collective group and I am convinced that together we can further elevate the content that for years has excited so many Danish sports fans.”
A transformation from print to digital
Founded in 1948, Tipsbladet is one of the oldest soccer magazines in the Nordics.
Over time, the media outlet has transitioned from a printed magazine to a digital platform and evolved into a leading source for soccer-related content, including news, articles, match previews, betting tips, videos, and analysis.
With a monthly audience of approximately 6.8 million visits and a substantial social media following, its digital edition Tipsbladet.dk has become a go-to destination for soccer enthusiasts.
Henrik Stegger Nielsen, former owner of Tipsbladet, stated: “Since 2007, when I acquired Tipsbladet, I have worked hard to make it a healthy and sustainable business.
“I have succeeded, and I could hardly imagine a better buyer for Tipsbladet than Better Collective. I know that they will both take good care of Tipsbladet and, with their ambitions and competencies, develop it even further.”
Nielsen joins Better Collective together with all current employees at Tipsbladet.
Tipsbladet editor in chief Allan Olsen added: “For Tipsbladet and its employees, this is a fantastic event. Even though we have experienced lots of growth and great numbers on the bottom line in an otherwise pressured media world, there is no doubt that Better Collective can help push Tipsbladet’s growth even further.
“We will continue to deliver strong football stories, but with Better Collective behind us, we can really make the content live on many more platforms and reach a wider audience.”
Better Collective said the acquisition strengthens its position in Denmark, making it a more attractive partner for advertisers in the Danish market, while the experienced editorial team at Tipsbladet provides a solid foundation for expanding media products on various platforms.
Better Collective intends to use its tech and search engine optimisation (SEO) expertise to grow the audience, and said it is committed to investing in the development and growth of Tipsbladet.dk.
During the presentation of its Q2 results last month, the affiliate group hinted at the possibility of more M&A deals.
In the company’s earnings call, CFO Flemming Pedersen said: “Our total financial capacity exceeds €150m now, hence we have plenty of firepower for expanding our activities.”
Revenue for Q2 was €78.1m, marking a year-on-year increase of 39.4%.
Earlier in September, Better Collective already acquired Torcedores.com, a leading Brazilian online sports media platform.
Fanatics Betting and Gaming has promised to provide new customers with a team jersey of their choice for signing up and placing a bet with the operator’s US sportsbook.
Fanatics is a leading provider of licensed sports merchandise and intends to leverage that advantage to acquire customers for its newly launched online gambling business.
Dubbed The Fanatics Jersey Drop, the promo applies to customers who sign up to the firm’s online sportsbook and mobile app between 1 September and 18 September.
Users will be able to place a single cash wager of $50 or more on any market to receive a reward credit to purchase team merchandise worth up to $150 on the flagship Fanatics site.
“Fanatics Betting and Gaming is bringing a more rewarding online sports betting experience to customers to celebrate the return of football season,” said Jason White, CMO of Fanatics Betting and Gaming.
“We want to outfit our customers in the latest team gear for betting with us on the Fanatics or PointsBet Sportsbooks. It’s sign up, suit up and get the Fanatics experience,” he added.
Last week marked a major turning point for Fanatics in the US sports betting space.
The company closed its acquisition of PointsBet’s US operating businesses across eight states.
The completed states – Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia – represent the first eight where Fanatics has received all the necessary regulatory approvals to complete the acquisitions.
In the states where the acquisitions have closed, PointsBet operations will be rebranded to “PointsBet, a Fanatics Experience”.
“We have a 10-year plan that focuses on the customer and not market share,” said Fanatics Betting and Gaming CEO Matt King.
“We are going to acquire customers efficiently, allowing us to return savings to customers by investing in the customer experience at Fanatics Sportsbook,” he added.
Last year, Fanatics faced a backlash on social media for offering bonus bets to customers who purchased sports merchandise via the online store.
The furore eventually led to Ohio state regulators stepping in to shut down the promotion.
Better Collective has acquired Torcedores.com, a leading Brazilian online sports media platform.
The word ‘torcedores’ means ‘fans’ in English, and the website offers a variety of sports content focused primarily on Brazil’s national sport, football.
In addition to sporting news and updates, the website offers content on betting odds and tips, as well as articles on which online betting operators offer certain functionalities such as cash out.
The site currently contains links to a variety of operators including bet365, Betfair, Sporsbet.io and Stake.
Over the past 12 months, Torcedores has averaged a monthly audience of more than 12 million sports fans, Better Collective said, with a high percentage of returning users.
The brand has also seen strong growth on social media, boasting a large following across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter/X and Instagram.
Better Collective’s acquisition of the business also includes other smaller assets in the Torcedores portfolio, it said. The affiliate will take over all of Torcedores’ operations.
Details of the transaction were not disclosed. Better Collective said that its financial targets for 2023 remain unchanged following the purchase.
Better Collective said the deal comes as the company “significantly ramps up its presence in the Brazilian market, investing strategically to establish a dedicated organisation in the country.”
Better Collective’s Brazilian operations are set to move into a new Rio de Janeiro office in September, while Torcedores holds a headquarters in Sao Paulo.
“I am truly excited to be welcoming Torcedores.com as our first sports media brand in Brazil,” said Simon Hovmand-Stilling, CEO of Better Collective South America (pictured).
“The sports brand complements our strategic position in the region and will expand our reach and sports content production – which in turn will make us even more relevant to our partners.
“South America, and more specifically Brazil, is an important growth driver for Better Collective and fits perfectly with our vision of becoming the leading digital sports media group.”
Last week, iGaming NEXT predicted Better Collective was poised for further M&A after CFO Flemming Pedersen hailed the performance of recent acquisitions as Q2 2023 revenue rose by 39% to €78m.