Formula One owner CVC Group is in talks to acquire internet gambling group Betfair
In a statement, the private equity group said: “CVC…confirms that it has had preliminary discussions with Richard Koch, Antony Ball and partners regarding options in respect of Betfair, which could include an offer for Betfair by funds advised by CVC together with Richard Koch, Antony Ball and partners.”
Koch, who also founded strategy consultancy LEK Consulting, owns a 6.5% stake in Betfair. Ball, on the other hand, is a non-executive director at the Luxembourg investment group Brait.
The Guardian has reported that the deal might not go through as Betfair co-founders, Ed Wray and Andrew Black still collectively hold about 19% of the company and may not be keen to sell the business unless they receive a great deal.
Wray told the Guardian: “Since the float I’ve been buying shares rather than selling. I hired [new chief executive]Breon [Corcoran]. I think he’s a great chief executive doing a great job and tackling the things that need to be tackled.”
Another long-time shareholder added: “I can’t see Ed and Bert selling all of their stakes at these levels. They wanted Breon and selling now would indicate they had no confidence on where the business is or where it is going … If [CVC] think they are going to get it at around £7.50 a share, then they’re dreaming.”
Betfair floated on the stock market in 2010. After CVC’s announcement, shares in the FTSE-250 website shot up by 12%.