The acquisition by US land gambling giant Caesars Entertainment of 51 percent of Israeli internet social games developer Playtika in May this year has been followed by the news that the American corporate has snapped up the remaining 49 percent of the company, lifting its internet gaming technical capability.
The Israeli business press reported on the move to secure the rest of the remarkable eighteen-month-old company this week, commenting that it is valued at around $80-$90 million, and that Caesars had exercised its option to acquire the rest of the stock within a two year framework.
The publication Globes quoted sources who revealed that Caesars acquired the balance of Playtika shares for a slightly higher value than its value when the first investment was carried out.
Playtika will become part of the Caesars Interactive Entertainment subsidiary, run out of Montreal by former Party Gaming chief Mitch Garber.
“It is no coincidence that we chose to acquire the balance of Playtika shares now,” Garber told Globes in an exclusive interview earlier this week. “Playtika's activity is advancing according to our plans, and company growth has been consistently strong.
“We have learned that controlling a portion of a company's shares it not the same thing as having complete control. The integration of Playtika and Caesars Interactive was important for Playtika's long term growth, and required additional investment that the current shareholders were not sure they wanted.
“We reached the conclusion that we prefer acquiring full control of the company before it is too late, which will enable us to fully integrate it within Caesars Interactive. We have many plans for the future.”
Globes went on to detail the pre-deal ownership of Playtika, identifying its co-founders as Uri Shahak, the son of former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shakak, and a former games manager at 888 Holdings, and Robert Antokol, who previously founded game company Cmate SA, which he subsequently sold to Oberon Media Inc. Both will benefit handsomely from the Caesars deal.
Other investors include former 888 CEO Gigi Levy, 888 investor Ofer Lezovsky, former Empire Online VP marketing man Avner Yasur, and real estate developers Igal Ahouvi, Yariv Gilat, and Dafna Weiss, along with Domaine du Castel winery founder Eli Ben-Zaken.
Garber revealed that Playtika's 50-strong labour force will be boosted during 2012, which he said would be a big year for the company, with the emphasis on building up a mainly Israeli-based qualified staff.
The company boasts 10 million mainly Facebook social users a month, but also has a strong presence on the Russian social network V knotakte, currently offering two gambling games: Slotomania, which is a slot machine, and Farkle, a dice game; Garber said that the inventory would soon be increased.
He also revealed that Playtika's activities on non-Facebook social gaming sites would be expanded, including operations in Asia, where games would be customised to the specific culture of each nation.
Garber gave encouragement to Israeli software firms by intimating during the interview that he was interested in further acquisitions in the area.