World Poker Tour Changes Hands in $105 Million Deal
The World Poker Tour has been acquired by Element Partners LLC, a company with an address in Foster City, California, for about $105 million. The deal, whose history featured multiple bids from Bally’s Corp. after Element Partners had made an initial offer, closed July 12.
Element Partners acquired the WPT from Allied Esports Entertainment Inc., a publicly held company that’s traded on the NASDAQ. The transaction includes all of the outstanding capital stock of each of the legal entities that collectively operated or engaged in Allied Esports Entertainment’s poker-related business and assets.
The WPT offers land-based and online poker tournaments.
When the sale was announced, little information was provided about the acquiring company in a news release. An Allied Esports Entertainment proxy statement identified Element Partners as a “Delaware limited liability company formed for the purpose of acquiring the WPT Business in the Sale Transaction.” The proxy statement went on to say that Element Partners is owned by an investment fund.
In the proxy statement, Daniel Maor was listed as a manager and contact for Element Partners. Maor’s email address indicates a domain of Variant Labs, a company whose website lists a Foster City address that is the same one that’s listed for Element Partners in the proxy statement. Maor could not be reached for comment.
According to a timeline in the proxy statement, in December Allied Esports had agreed to a deal with Element Partners that would have been worth about $78 million over three years. However, Allied Esports then received a series of unsolicited proposals from Bally’s Corp. for various amounts with various conditions that, at times, amounted to a “superior proposal.” Element Partners amended its offer and eventually prevailed in the back-and-forth with its $105 million offer.
With the WPT moving to new ownership, Allied Esports has said it’ll consider options for its Esports business.
“This is a momentous day for (Allied Esports Entertainment) and an opportunity to focus on growing the business in exciting and innovative ways,” Frank Ng, CEO of Allied Esports, said in the release. “Congratulations to (WPT CEO) Adam Pliska and his entire team at World Poker Tour as they too move into a new, successful chapter.”
The timeline regarding offers from Bally’s and Element Partners illustrates Pliska’s role in the evolution of the transaction beginning in September when Pliska was introduced by a “mutual friend” to a representative of the eventual buyer. From there, talks and offers followed that led to the WPT changing ownership.
The WPT, now in its 18th season, was founded in 2002 and helped popularize the game on TV. It has broadcast globally in more than 150 countries and territories. It’s also associated with ClubWPT.com, an online membership poker-playing website that’s available in 43 states and territories across the U.S., Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom.
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