When the Amaya Gaming Group initially announced that they would be purchasing the Rational Group for $4.9 billion, it may have seemed too outlandish to be true. But as of late last week, that takeover has now become official, making Amaya the new global leader in the world of online poker and beyond.
Amaya has officially announced the completion of the acquisition of the Oldford Group, the parent company of the Rational Group, which in turn owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt. The purchase was described as an “all-cash transaction,” though the majority of that total was financed through convertible preferred shares and nearly three billion dollars in subsidized loans.
Baazov Pleased to Complete Deal
“We are extremely pleased to have completed this Acquisition [sic],” said Amaya Chairman and CEO David Baazov in a press release. “Through PokerStars, Full Tilt and its multiple live poker tours and events, Rational’s brands comprise the world’s largest poker business, generating diversified and recurring revenues across the globe from its extremely loyal customer base.”
Baazov also made it clear that Amaya plans to retain the culture of business currently seen at Rational. While Rational Group founder and CEO Mark Scheinberg will no longer be with the company, most of the rest of the senior management team will be retained under Amaya’s leadership.
“Rational’s successis attributable to the company’s core values of integrity, customer focus, and challenge,” Baazov said. “These values are ingrained in the DNA of the company’s staff located across the globe, led by Rational’s deep, experienced executive and leadership teams. We intend for Rational to maintain this culture and will support its initiatives to continue growing this world class business.”
Scheinberg Out as Rational Leader
Scheinberg also expressed belief that Amaya would continue Rational’s tradition of quality service for customers.
“Since launching PokerStars in 2001 we have grown the business each year thanks to constant innovation, unparalleled customer service, and the talent of our dedicated workforce,” he said. “While myself and other founders are departing, we are happy to see the business and the brands we have developed, along with the teams behind them, transferred to strong new ownership. I’m confident that Amaya, together with Rational Group’s leadership, will continue to successfully grow the business into the future.”
The announcement comes just days after a critical special meeting of the Amaya Gaming Group’s shareholders. At that meeting, shareholders overwhelmingly gave their approval to the financing plan and the purchase of the Rational Group, officially allowing Amaya to work towards the resolution of the acquisition.
That meeting also produced a resolution that officially changed the name of the company. Shareholders voted in favor of a proposal to rebrand the corporation to Amaya Inc., a move that was made “for reasons of simplicity and to reflect the actual name by which the corporation is routinely identified by the greater public.”
Looking forward, it is expected that Amaya will attempt to bring the PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker brands back to the United States in regulated markets. New Jersey is a likely first target, as Rational had already established a partnership agreement with Resorts Casino Hotel, and regulators in the state have responded favorably to the takeover by Amaya.