Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority (SEC) has launched a preliminary investigation into the possible insider trading of LeoVegas’ shares.
The agency said Tuesday it had raided the online casino giant’s offices in Stockholm earlier in the day.
LeoVegas later confirmed the unannounced visit in a statement to the Nasdaq Stockholm. The operator said it was fully assisting SEC with its inquiries.
No employee, member in the management team or board member in the Company has been notified about any criminal suspicion,” it added. “The company has no further information to provide. All questions concerning the preliminary investigation need to be directed to the Swedish Economic Crime Authority.”
SEC had not applied to a request for further comment at the time of publication.
Link to MGM Bid?
LeoVegas’ shares skyrocketed by 42% on Monday, May 2 following the announcement that US casino giant MGM Resorts International had made a $600M cash bid to acquire the company. But its stock had been on a modest upward trajectory in the month preceding the announcement.
The company’s board was informed before Christmas about the interest from MGM, according to Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri.
LeoVegas’ chairman Per Norman previously told DI that there had been no indication of leaks prior to the announcement of the takeover bid.
The MGM offer of SEK61 (US$6.16) per share to acquire all of LeoVegas’ share capital represented a 44% premium on the closing share prices the Friday before the announcement.
This is not the first time that a major takeover bid in the online gaming space has come under scrutiny for insider trading.
Echoes of Amaya?
In the summer of 2014, the biggest story in the industry was Amaya Gaming’s (now The Stars Group) $4.9 billion leveraged takeover of online poker giant PokerStars. The surprise deal transformed a relatively unknown Canadian software company, and its CEO David Baazov, into one of the biggest hitters in the industry.
Amaya’s shares had performed unspectacularly on the Toronto Stock Exchange until they shot up in the weeks before news of the deal broke, doubling in one day alone.
In March 2016, Baazov, along with members of his circle of friends and family, were charged by the Quebec securities regulator, AMF, with insider trading.
Baazov denied the charges, and the case against him was ultimately tossed when a Quebec judge stayed the trial, largely blaming the AMF for bungling the prosecution.
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