Posts Tagged ‘David Baazov PokerStars’

Amaya Planning to Become “Stars Group” & Move to Toronto

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Amaya Gaming has announced plans to change their name to “The Stars Group Inc.” The name change is designed to better reflect their chief asset, PokerStars, and to distance themselves from embattled former CEO, David Baazov.

Another big change involves Amaya moving from Montreal to Toronto, which makes sense because the latter is a bigger metropolitan area.

Amaya made the announcements during a Q1 financial report. They also discussed how revenue was $317.3 million, which is up 10 percent from last year’s first quarter.

Another revelation from the meeting is that online poker makes up just 69 percent of Amaya’s revenue. Given that this is 6 percent less than last year, it shows that the company is achieving their goal of being less reliant on poker.

Over the past few years, Amaya has rolled out BetStars and Stars Casino to become an all-around gaming site.

“We continued our momentum in the first quarter as we execute on our strategy and reinforce the foundation for sustainable and diversified revenue growth, including through the strengthening of our core management team and operations,” said Amaya CEO Rafi Ashkenazi.

Here are a few other notable points from the meeting:

  • Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization) increased by 22.3 percent, to $151 million.
  • Net earnings increased by 18.5 percent, to $65.8 million.
  • Company shareholders must approve the name change to Stars Group Inc.
  • The move to Toronto is TBD.
  • Ashkenazi said that the company needs a new CFO because Daniel Sebag will be leaving the company.

david-baazov-amayaBaazov founded Amaya in 2004, then led an effort to purchase PokerStars for $4.9 billion in 2014. But he stepped down from his CEO position last year amid insider trading allegations.

Baazov is accused of leaking information to friends and family about Amaya’s purchase of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, allowing them to profit from insider trading.

Troubles continue for the former Amaya headman because he’s also accused of making an illegal foreign political donation to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The FBI alleges that Baazov made the donation to help make online poker legalization more attractive to Cuomo.

David Baazov Officially Out at Amaya, PokerStars

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

david-baazov-pokerstarsDavid Baazov has officially resigned from his CEO role at Amaya Gaming 12 years after taking over the company. Baazov will also relinquish his role at PokerStars, which Amaya purchased for $4.9 billion in 2014.

“I am proud of my contributions in building Amaya into the successful company it is today, and continue to be supportive of its strategy and management,” Baazov said after stepping down.

In March, Baazov was charged with insider trading and temporarily left his CEO role to sort out the case.

Rafi Ashkenazi took lead of the company in what was supposed to be a short-term role. But now, with Baazov leaving the company, Ashkenazi will become Amaya’s permanent CEO.

According to Canada’s Financial Post, Baazov’s resignation comes as the Quebec-based company earned $285.9 million in Q2 revenue, which is 10.2% higher than last year’s second quarter.

One driving force behind the increase was casino and sportsbook revenues pulling in $60 million, led by Euro Cup 2016 betting. But online poker revenue remained stagnant at $216 million, mostly because of customers watching football matches instead of playing poker.

Despite the encouraging news, Ashkenazi told investors that the company needs to brace for a short down period.

“It typically carries a hangover effect for several weeks after completion and requires adjustments to the promotional calendar,” said Ashkenazi.

As for Baazov, he exits the gaming industry after over a decade of immense success. He co-founded Amaya in 2004, helping turn it into one of the biggest players in online gaming.

He also spearheaded the 2014 deal that helped Amaya acquire PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in the biggest iGaming transaction in history. Baazov diversified PokerStars by adding casino and sportsbook offerings and capitalized on other revenue opportunities.

The company also worked to make PokerStars more friendly to recreational players by instituting VIP program and table selection changes. These weren’t popular with regulars, but Amaya saw it as a necessary in order to remain competitive in a changing poker environment.

Despite Baazov’s contributions, Amaya felt that they needed somebody who could dedicate 100% of their efforts towards the company.

“Even if the company is engaged in an ongoing a strategic process it needs a clear leader to can run the day-to-day operations,” said spokesman Ian Robertson.

3 Implications of Baazov’s Insider Trading Charges

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

david-baazov-pokerstarsThe poker news of the week is definitely the insider-trading charges against David Baazov. The CEO of Amaya Gaming (PokerStars’ parent company) is facing five counts of manipulating stock prices from 2013 to 2014, when Amaya bought Stars for $4.9 billion. Luckily, PokerStars is not accused of any wrongdoing, however, there could still be some implications for Stars as a result. That said, here are three possibilities to consider as the insider-trading scandal moves forward.

1. PokerStars’ Expansion into US will be Tougher

When Amaya purchased Stars in a record-Canadian transaction, it was thought that this could be the turning point for a company that built its fortune on grey online poker markets. Furthermore, Amaya would have a much better chance of getting PokerStars regulated in US states than the Scheinberg family. Everything was going according to plan when Stars launched in New Jersey earlier this week. But Baazov’s insider-trading charges put another black eye on PokerStars’ history and will prolong their efforts to enter California and other future markets.

2. Amaya Stock won’t be rising any time soon

After news that their CEO had been charged with insider trading, Amaya Gaming’s stock plummeted 26%, stopping at under $15 a share. This is a far cry from its early 2015 peak of $37, which would tumble amid news that a strong American dollar was hurting PokerStars customers’ purchasing power. Baazov’s insider-trading charges represent the latest incident to hurt the company’s stock prices.

3. Baazov won’t be taking the Company Private

Several weeks ago, Baazov offered a proposal to take Amaya private. His $3.3 billion offer is quite a bit less than the original $4.9 billion purchase price. And, now that he’s facing serious charges, it doesn’t look like the board will have much to mull over. Amaya will remain a public company for the time being while PokerStars’ top brass attempts to work out of this jam.