lutter Entertainment, the world’s biggest online gambling company, has raised money through an investment from Fox Corp. to take advantage of opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flutter, which owns the Paddy Power, Poker Stars and Sky Bet brands, said in a statement Friday it placed 8.05 million new shares at a 4.7% discount to Thursday’s closing price, raising 812 million pounds ($1 billion). Flutter shares fell 2.9% at 8:04 a.m. in London, Bloomberg reports.
Flutter said in its statement on Thursday that Fox, which bought a 4.99% stake in The Stars Group in May last year for $236 million, would increase its investment in Flutter as part of the placement but did not say how many shares it was acquiring. Flutter also said on Thursday that its revenue in the second quarter so far has increased by 10% from a year earlier, despite widespread ongoing disruption to global sports.
Fox is investing because it is “bullish about the opportunities in the digital sports wagering market,” Lachlan Murdoch, Chief Executive Officer at Fox, said in a statement, which did not reveal how much Fox would invest.
“COVID-19 will likely result in a faster rate of US sports betting legalization, potentially followed by online casino legalization,” James Wheatcroft, equity analyst at Jefferies, said in a note. “This placing positions Flutter to take advantage of the enlarged market opportunity.”
Flutter agreed to buy Toronto-based The Stars Group Inc. in October in a $6 billion all-share deal to take advantage of opportunities in the US after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting. While Flutter had a US presence as the owner of FanDuel, prior to the Stars deal, almost half its revenue came from the UK, where tighter rules on fixed-odds betting terminals and higher taxes for online betting have upended the industry.
There has been a flurry of share sales this week, Bloomberg reported, with almost $5 billion announced after the close of trading Tuesday as large investors take advantage of rebounding indexes to offload stakes, and as companies attempt to shore up cash balances amid the coronavirus crisis.