UK competition authorities clear Rank’s acquisition of Gala Group

The Competition Commission said that it had given the go ahead to UK gaming and betting company Rank Group Plc (LON:RNK) to buy its rival Gala Coral Group Ltd’s unit Gala Casino 1 Limited, owner of 19 casinos and three non-operating licences, for GBP179m (USD275.3m/EUR210.7m).

The clearance follows the regulator’s approval of Global Gaming Ventures Limited (GGV) as the buyer for Rank’s cold licence in Edinburgh, which was one of the conditions set by the CC in its report from February.

Rank agreed in May last year to acquire Gala Casinos, including 23 casinos in the UK and three non-operating licences for GBP205m. The UK Office of Fair Trading later referred the deal to the CC over concerns that it could harm competition. In a move to comply with the regulatory requirements, the buyer, acting via its unit Rank Group Gaming Division Limited, agreed an amended deal in March that excluded four casinos in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Stockton-on-Tees and Gibraltar from the original deal. It also had to sell its cold licence in Edinburgh to an upfront buyer approved by the CC or it would also be prohibited from buying the Gala casino in Edinburgh.

The combination is seen to create the UK’s largest casino operator by number of casinos with 54 operating venues and 12 non-operating licences. The deal, to be funded with debt, is also expected to increase the the company’s earnings in the first full financial year, the buyer has said.

Aristocrat bolsters footprint in social gaming via Product Madness buy

Australian gaming services provider Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL) announced it has agreed to acquire US online social casino company Product Madness Inc for an undisclosed sum, expanding into the social gaming sector.

Through the deal, the buyer will be able to bolster its footprint in the online gaming sector, Aristocrat said, adding that it had also acquired the firm’s management and employees. As part of the agreement, Lior Shiff and Jose Brotons, co-founders of Product Madness, will continue to head the business.

Product Madness has a headcount of over 20 across offices in San Francisco and London. It has launched various Facebook games since its establishment in 2007.

Aristocrat’s managing director and chief executive officer Jamie Odell said that the deal, together with other recent investments, is in line with the company’s strategy for growth through online channels.