Kindred Group is reportedly looking to sell itself, but the Swedish gaming company may have been rebuffed by some marquee names, including private equity giants and European sportsbook operators.
The Unibet operator mulling a sale could be the result of Keith Meister’s Corvex Management urging the company to do so. Meister’s hedge fund took a stake in Kindred earlier this year, quickly doubling it to 10.12% in the second quarter, giving it the cache necessary to push for a reorganization or sale.
Reports indicate Kindred approached European rivals 888 Holdings, Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY) and German sportsbook operator Tipico as well as private equity firms Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) regarding a transaction.
Kindred’s market capitalization currently hovers around $1.72 billion, making it easily digestible for any of the aforementioned prospective suitors, but those companies reportedly declined to advance talks on the basis that the Swedish company needs to freshen its approach to operating in regulated markets.
Kindred European Outlook
Any buyer considering moving on Kindred would be making a bet on Europe, which is home to one of the largest, most mature gaming markets in the world.
There, Kindred recently departed Germany and is grappling with legal woes in Norway. Last month, the operator said it’s reentering the Netherlands.
“We have an exciting period ahead of us with the Dutch market up and running, the continued development of our proprietary sportsbook, and not least the 2022 World Cup taking place in November and December. We also expect the headwinds experienced during past quarters to gradually ease off in the coming quarters,” said CEO Henrik Tjärnström in a statement.
Kindred’s European exposure could be attractive to a suitor such as 888 Holdings, which recently acquired William Hill’s international assets, or Entain if that company is looking to add share in markets in which it’s already established. For its part, Apollo owns some European gaming assets and has previously been rumored to be a suitor for others.
Next Steps for Corvex, Kindred
Assuming Kindred is not successful in identifying a buyer and executing such a transaction, it remains to be seen how Corvex will proceed, but Meister’s hedge fund has a track record of affecting other forms of change at companies in which it invests, including gaming entities.
Corvex is an activist investor, meaning that when the firm takes equity stakes in companies, it usually pushes for some kind of change. That can be in the form of asset sales, spinoffs, increased shareholder rewards, or other ideas.
Meister’s firm has documented success in the gaming industry, having joined the board of MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM). He was among the investors that pushed the gaming company to generate cash by divesting its real estate assets. The hedge fund was successful in that objective and it culminated in MGM Growth Properties (NYSE:MGP) — MGM’s primary landlord — being acquired by VICI Properties (NYSE:VICI).
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