La Française des Jeux prepares bid to acquire Kindred Group

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The Unibet operator confirmed a report from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday 21 January, with a takeover offer from FDJ to be announced tomorrow (22 January). 

“[The] strategic review initiated by the board in April 2023 is ongoing and the company continues to evaluate options to deliver shareholder value,” Kindred said. 

“As part of the strategic review process, the board in conjunction with its advisers, has explored a number of options, including a merger or sale of the company.”

This now looks likely to result in an offer for the business, at a time activist investor Corvex Management has been pushing for a sale. This comes after it emerged Kindred’s board had contacted a number of operators and private equity funds about a potential transaction in 2022. 

Among the companies contacted were Entain, 888 and Tipico, as well as Apollo Global and Blackstone. However, this did not result in any interest. 

Sweeping changes at Kindred Group

The strategic review, however, heralded wholesale change. Long-serving chief executive Henrik Tjärnström departed along with almost all of Kindred’s C-level team. The business is currently led by an interim C-suite headed by CEO Nils Andén.

The operator is also withdrawing from the North American market, aiming to exit by Q2 2024 to refocus financial and technology resources on key markets. This was announced alongside a wave of layoffs, with up to 300 jobs to go.

The business is due to announce its full year results for 2023 on 7 February. 

FDJ begins to flex financial muscle

Kindred Group’s prospective new owner La Française des Jeux has recently begun to ramp up expansion efforts, alongside a long-running process of digitising its core lottery and sports betting businesses. 

FDJ now runs the Irish National Lottery following a €350m deal to acquire Premier Lotteries Ireland which closed in Q4 2023. This deal followed the €175m acquisition of horse race betting operator ZeTurf, to diversify its online business beyond lottery, poker and sports. 

France’s lottery monopoly holder reported revenue of €1.88bn for the first nine months of 2023, with sports betting and igaming’s contribution growing 9.3% to €360m. 

A deal for Kindred, which operates across a range of European markets and the UK, further expands its geographic footprint, as well as providing the business with a proprietary sports betting platform

More to follow…

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