Caesars Acquisition Company (CAC) announced in a press release over the weekend that a group of Chinese investors agreed to acquire Playtika, a world-leading social gaming platform, from Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc. (CIE) for $4.4 billion in an all-cash deal.
According to the press release on PR Newswire, the Chinese consortium is led by Giant Investment (HK) Limited, an affiliate of one of China's biggest online game companies Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., Ltd. Other big-name partners also part of the consortium include Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm created by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd.; China Minsheng Trust Co., Ltd.; CDH China HF Holdings Company Limited; and Hony Capital Fund.
Rumors began circulating in May regarding a potential sale of the Caesars Entertainment Corp. and CAC joint-venture CIE, which at the time was believed to potentially contain more than just Playtika, but not include the popular World Series of Poker (WSOP) poker festival. However, it is reported that the sale will not include anything outside of Playtika. Meaning that both the WSOP and real-money online gaming businesses will continue to be owned and operated by CIE.
The Playtika platform operates many free games including Slotomania and Bingo Blitz with players also able to enhance their experience by purchasing virtual currency and items. Caesars shared that the company will continue its policy for not allowing virtual currency to be sold.
Playtika was co-founded in by current CEO Robert Antokol in 2010. Antokol credits Playtika's employees for the company's growth over the past six years while also sharing his excitement about the opportunities the new ownership presents for the company.
"This transaction is a testament to Playtika's unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world," said Antokol. "We are incredibly excited by the commercial opportunities the Consortium will make available to us, particularly in its ability to provide us access to large and rapidly growing emerging markets. This is an amazing milestone for all Playtikans and we truly value how unique this opportunity is to continue executing our vision with such a strong partner."
About a year after Playtika was founded, Caesars originally purchased the company in May 2011 for $80 to $90 million. At the time, Playtika had just 10 employees, and under the watch of Caesars has profitably grown into 1,300 employees around the world. CIE Executive Chairman and CEO Mitch Garber praises Antokol for the growth of the company.
"It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader," said Garber. "Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users. Robert is a true visionary and Israeli business leader who has created not only a great business, but also the most unique corporate culture I have seen in my career."
Caesars expects the deal to be completed in either the third or fourth quarter this year after regulatory approvals and other closing conditions take place. Whether or not the deal helps or complicates Caesars Entertainment's\ dispute with creditors surrounding its bankruptcy filing, which could cost the company $5.1 billion, remains to be seen.
Lead image courtesy of Wikipedia.org.