Cirsa to be acquired by the Blackstone

May 15, 2018


Cirsa Gaming Corp, one of the largest gaming operators in Spain, has been acquired by The Blackstone Group.

On Friday, April 27, 2018, Blackstone which is a private equity fund manager issued a joint statement with Cirsa saying that they had reached an agreement on how the former will acquire the latter. In the deal, The Blackstone will acquire Cirsa’s casino, sports betting, and bingo operations in Spain, Latin America and Italy. It is only the Argentinian business of Cirsa which will not be sold and it will exist as a separate entity according to the wishes of Cirsa’s founder Manuel Lao Hernandez.

The details in the deal

Even though the details of the deal were not disclosed, Cirsa which is based in Barcelona was expected to fetch an amount of between €2 and €2.5 billion. The deal came to a conclusion after a long hedge fund bidding war which had started in February. In the earlier weeks of April 2018, there were media reports indicating that the number of bidders had reduced to include just hedge funders Apollo Global Management and the winner, The Blackstone Group. There were doubts on whether the deal would actually be completed in April. It was reported that Cirsa was considering an initial public offering (IPO) should a direct sale not go through as intended.

Cirsa Gaming Corp

Currently, Cirsa has a network of 147 casinos, more than 2,000 sports betting points of sale, 70 bingo halls, 178 salons, and over 75,000 gaming machines. The company is also in a joint venture with Landrokes, a popular UK bookmaker. The joint venture is in the Sportium sports betting operation. In 2017, Cirsa’s revenue was in excess of €1.7 billion which extended the company’s consecutive upward trend of quarterly earnings growth to 47.

The new arrangement

According to the new arrangement, Joaquim Agut who has remained the CEO at Cirsa since 2006 will become the company’s new chair and Hernandez will exit.

After the deal was sealed, Hernandez thanked all the staffers at the company that have worked for the company in the past 40 years. He added that Cirsa would gain immensely from Blackstone’s “enthusiasm and ambition”. On his part, Agut thanked Hernandez and said that Cirsa has grown to be where it is now because of his “exceptional leadership”.

Lionel Assant, Blackstone’s European private equity director, said that the fund was “happy to make this investment”. He added that he was excited and even offered Joaquim support and his strategy ideas in this new stage. He reiterated his support to Joaquim in the expansion of Cirsa both organically, through future acquisitions and in new geographical territories.