Poker (englisch)

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In an audacious move, a consortium led by U.S. poker icon Doyle Brunson recently tabled a $700 million unsolicited bid for WPT Enterprises Inc. The key to WPT, is its live multiplayer poker room and, its World Poker Tour television show, which goes out to 60 countries. Acquiring WPT would allow Brunson and co to control a key strategic distribution channel into growth areas outside the US, that are least exposed to regulatory risk. As competition in the online poker sector increases, the cost of acquiring new players is rising, and control over such marketing channels has become a key determinant of success. Whilst Brunson's bid now seems to have lapsed, the company remains very much a play on the growth of the poker sector.

PartyGaming's shares, priced at 116p, ended their first day of trading on the London Stock Exchange up 12% at 129p. This was great news for Deutsche Kleinwort Wasserstein, and the other underwriting banks behind the offer; Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank, Calyon, Commerzbank, Enskilda Securities, ING and Mediobanca-Banca di Credito Finanziario.

A valuation of 116p raised around £900mn for PartyGaming and will ensure the company automatic entry into the FTSE 100. Inclusion in the FTSE 100 will serve to further raise the company's profile among investors, and will attract the attention of the tracker funds that use the broad FTSE All Share index as their benchmark. The latter will be forced buyers as Party Gaming is a FTSE stock, and the more the stock rises, the more likely they are to buy.

Shares in PartyGaming already up almost 30% since they were floated on Monday 27 June 2005, were given a further boost on June 30, when Citigroup said in a research report; "Despite the considerable risks and uncertainties, we find the PartyGaming business and its stock's valuation attractive." Setting a target price of 185p for the company, Citgroup said that it was their opinion that the company was well placed financially to be able to defend and consolidate its leadership position in the online poker market. On July 12, shares in the company touched a new intra day high of 157.5p. The company intends to announce its interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2005 on Tuesday 6 September 2005.

Sportingbet has, following on from its acquisition of Paradise Poker in October 2004, transformed itself into becoming one of the largest and most profitable online gambling companies in the world. With Paradise Poker recording a 64% operating margin and contributing £8m to EBIT, shares in the company have quadrupled over the past five months and are now trading on 38 times earnings (despite the fact that sports betting margins fell across all three regions in H1 2005). It is estimated that 34% of the company's gross win is attributable to online Poker. Recently second quarter profits from Sportingbet revealed that rake at Paradise Poker was £12.5m.

It is estimated that revenues at online poker sites alone, will break the $2.4bn mark this year, peaking at $5bn around 2008. The top ten sites account for around 90% of the industry rake; with Party Poker currently holding a market share of 42%

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