Amaya to sell Cadillac Jack game development arm for $476 million to funds

MONTREAL – Amaya announced a $476-million deal Monday to sell its holdings in the Cadillac Jack casino game business as the PokerStars owner focuses on the lucrative online gaming business acquired last year.

The Montreal-based company said the buyer is AGS, an affiliate of funds managed by Apollo Global Management.

AGS will give Amaya $461 million in cash and a $15-million note due on the eighth anniversary of the deal closing for the shares of Amaya Americas Corp., the indirect parent of Cadillac Jack.

The agreement comes five months after Amaya (TSX:AYA) launched a strategic review of its business.

Last week, the company announced it was spinning off its Diamond Game Enterprises subsidiary through an initial public offering of a newly formed Innova Gaming Group. Innova will hold all the shares of Diamond Game, which designs and develops games, primarily for the North American lottery sector.

The moves follow Amaya’s US$4.9-billion deal last June to buy the world’s largest online poker company, operator of popular brands PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

Amaya CEO David Baazov said Cadillac Jack has grown significantly since it acquired the business in 2012 for $177 million.

“We are confident that combining Cadillac Jack with AGS presents a strong opportunity to expedite the company’s growth strategy, while at the same time crystallizing on the strong value created in the business to benefit Amaya’s shareholders,” he stated in a news release.

Cadillac Jack has more than 13,000 games installed in casinos and a library of 165 game titles. It has also begun to develop online versions of some of its titles.

The deal is subject to various approvals, including from gaming industry regulators.

Amaya expects the deal will close this year. It intends to use money from the deal to reduce debt.

AGS is a designer and manufacturer of casino gaming products. Parent company Apollo has about US$160 billion of assets under management.

“After what can only be categorized as an incredibly transformational year for AGS, the acquisition of Cadillac Jack further demonstrates that we are positioned to take the next step in establishing ourselves as a major player in the gaming industry,” stated AGS chief executive David Lopez.

Amaya reports its fourth-quarter and 2014 results on Tuesday

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares rose 7.85 per cent in Monday morning trading, gaining $2.19 at $30.09.