Venerable European online-poker brand Unibet Poker is likely to become part of a new corporate family in the months ahead. Kindred Group plc, the owner of Unibet and several other online brands, has agreed to be acquired by France’s La Française des Jeux (LFJ), best known as being the operator of France’s national lottery.
The deal will be valued at more than USD $2.8 billion if approved by Kindred Group’s shareholders, which is expected to occur. The offer represents a significant premium over Kindred Group’s current stock price as traded on the NASDAQ Stockholm exchange, and the offer has been unanimously approved by Kindred’s board of directors.
“I’m delighted with [the] transaction announcement between FDJ and Kindred, creating a leading European gaming operator with the financial and strategic capabilities to further expand its global footprint,” said Kindred Group CEO Nils Andén. “I believe that combining with FDJ, Kindred can accelerate the delivery of long-term strategic projects, continue to grow in core markets, and provide a trusted source of entertainment to customers. It will also speed up our path towards 100% locally regulated revenue. I’m excited to bring Kindred’s extensive experience and know-how into FDJ’s organization, contributing to the development of a leading online gaming business. I’m also very proud that FDJ acknowledges and values the skilled employees and strong assets within Kindred.”
LFJ hopes to become Europe-wide operator
The acquisition marks one of the first major steps for La Française des Jeux in its plans to become a major iGaming operator throughout Europe. FDJ began its existence as a French government-controlled entity, but was taken public in 2018.
Stéphane Pallez, the Chairwoman and CEO of FDJ Group, said, “Fully aligned with our strategy, [the acquisition of Kindred] will give the Group a diversified and balanced profile, based on several pillars: the monopoly activities, mainly the lottery, on our French historical market and, since November, in Ireland, with the acquisition of the Irish lottery operator PLI; and online sports betting and gaming activities open to competition in Europe.
“In this market, Kindred is one of the leading operators, combining strong brands, best-in-class technology platforms, an attractive growth profile and a committed approach to responsible gaming. Given their respective histories, strategic strengths and core values, FDJ and Kindred are highly complementary, and I will be delighted to welcome Kindred’s management team and many talented individuals into the combined Group following this transaction. The combination will result in a stronger strategic positioning and significant value creation for the benefit of our shareholders and broader stakeholders.”
Unibet is one of Europe’s oldest online-gambling brands. After being founded in 1997 by Anders Ström, it was one of the first to move into the online-sphere beginning in 1999. Unibet Group, the parent entity, was renamed as Kindred Group in 2016. Today, Kindred Group’s brands also include 32Red, Bingo.com, Casinohuone, and five other brand names serving various European markets.