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Amaya Buying Cryptologic Stock

By: Ryan Alders, Monday April 18th 2011
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Soon after announcing its annual results in March 2011, the online gaming software provider Cryptologic had stated that it had hired the management expert Deloitte to carry out a strategic review of its business. While Cryptologic had indicated that this review may lead to an ultimate sale, it had also averred that there was no such deal being discussed.

This was followed by unconfirmed news that a firm named Amaya had already acquired a 5% stake in Cryptologic as a precursor to an acquisition bid. Amaya is a Canada based online gaming company that has been active in Kenya. It has recently obtained an online gaming license issued by the Dominican Republic jurisdiction. It plans to launch an online casino offering the complete range of casino games and online poker in the third quarter of 2011.

The unconfirmed news was formalized last week when Amaya issued a notification to the stock exchange. On April 15 Amaya filed an SC13D notification to report acquisition of ownership of 5% or more shares of a company. Amaya had purchased 652,170 shares of Cryptologic for just over a million dollars. The funds were arranged from its general working capital according to the notification. This acquisition amounted to 5.05% of Cryptologic's common stock. Crptologic had 12,907,120 shares outstanding as of March 24, 2011.

The statement was filed by David Baazov, the chief executive and president of Amaya. It listed the dates on which the purchases of Cryptologic shares were made and also indicated the number of shares purchased along with the price. The shares were purchased between March 25 and April 7 for an average price of about $1.65. The statement also required Amaya to indicate the purpose of the purchase. Under that field Baazov wrote that the Cryptologic stock was acquired in order to facilitate a possible strategic transaction with the software provider. Baazov further indicated that Amaya was keeping all options open at the moment and would monitor the business performance, particularly the financial performance, of Cryptologic. Depending on various factors Amaya may buy more shares or even sell off the stake it has acquired.

Meanwhile, Cryptologic competitor Playtech is moving from strength to strength. It is continuing with its purchasing spree. The latest target is London based online gaming software developer Ash Gaming. Market sources say that the acquisition is close to being completed. Ash Gaming has a strategic importance in Playtech's scheme. Earlier Playtech had purchased Gaming Technology Solutions. The EdGE platform of Gaming Technology Solutions provides a number of its online casino clients with several of Ash Gaming's top games.

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