PartyPoker’s Stock Market Flotation Looks Inevitable
PartyPoker, the world’s biggest online poker site, who, when approached by PokerNews.Info in November, scorched rumours that it was planning to go public, has announced it may float on the London Stock Exchange.
The announcement by PartyGaming (formerly known as iGlobalMedia and owner of PartyPoker.com) that it had appointed two investment banks “to undertake a review of the group’s strategic options” is a common prelude to flotation. The news has sparked much speculation in the British press.
PartyPoker accounts for more than half the worldwide online poker market, with 65,000 people, mostly Americans, playing simultaneously at peak times. Their registrations are believed to be approaching five million.
Last year’s profits were estimated to be in the region of $350 million, with $500-$600 earnings projected for 2005. It therefore comes as no surprise that city analysts have already put a rough value of £3 billion ($5.7 billion) on PartyGaming.
That makes the Gibraltar-registered company worth more than many long-established London Stock Exchange-listed businesses, such as British Airways, ICI, and EMI. Floatation on the London Stock Market is the obvious choice, as the legality of online gambling in the United States remains unclear.
By “going public,” PartyGaming’s publicity-shy quartet of owners are set to attain massive wealth. They consist of founders Ruth Parasol (a colourful Californian lawyer who has already made a fortune from pornographic websites) and Indian computer expert Anurag Dikshit.
Russ de Leon, another American, and Vikrant Bhargava, an Indian marketing executive, joined later with the PartyPoker site launched in 2001 — four years after the company’s [iGlobalMedia] formation.
Just last fall, ParadisePoker’s sale to a UK company made £150 million ($285 million) for its creators, three Canadian computer engineers. A flotation by PartyGaming would dwarf that sum.…