Jan 26, 2022
Blackstone-Backed E-Bookie Eyes Global Expansion From Romania
(Bloomberg) -- Romania’s betting and gaming company Superbet Holding SA has ambitious plans to build a global presence after its core business doubled in size last year amid a surge of online gambling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Superbet, backed by Blackstone Inc. since 2019, plans to expand within Europe and Canada in the near-term, Chief Executive Officer Johnny Hartnett said in an interview. Longer horizon plans include launching operations in the U.S. as well as in Asian markets.
More and more countries are regulating online gambling in a boost for the global industry which could grow to $140 billion by 2028, according to a report by Grand View Research. Superbet is present in 10 European markets, last year making 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) in revenues and a profit of more than 200 million euros.
“We want a situation where, ultimately, the sun never sets on the Superbet empire,” Hartnett said in an interview from Bucharest. “Anywhere in the world where there’s a regulated gaming market, we want to be there.”
Superbet purchased in 2021 Napoleon Sports & Casino, Belgium’s third largest player, and is now a market leader in the country. Created in 2008 by Romanian entrepreneur Sasha Dragic, Superbet’s biggest draws include European soccer matches, both at the club and national level. Three years ago, Blackstone bought an unspecified, “strategic” minority stake for 175 million euros.
Hartnett doesn’t expect the company to take on “much more financing to deliver our growth ambitions.” If new funds will be required, Blackstone may help. Eventually, the company could sell shares in an initial public offering, he said.
Appetite for east European-based sports betting companies was tested by Poland’s STS Holding SA, which raised 1.08 billion zloty ($265 million) in its December share offering and is currently trading about 5% below its IPO price.
“We’ve got a kind of an open remit about what the next stage of our capital structure looks like, and really what we’re trying to do is focus on the top line growth and focus on making sure that the business stays healthy and profitable,” Hartnett said.
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