As Tabcorp continues with a review of its media and wagering business, Apollo Global Management has entered the bidding process, tabling a $4 billion offer.
Apollo Joins the Race for Tabcorp’s Media and Wagering Assets
Tabcorp’s (TAB) wagering and media business continues to be as tempting a prospect as ever, as Entain has already submitted an early bid that was ultimately rejected by the company, which argued that it may yet revisit the offer as it’s currently conducting a review of its business assets.
If Tabcorp has been hesitant to jump on the first good proposal it received, that has been mostly because the company expected more bidders to show up, and this has turned out to be true with Apollo now joining the list of suitors looking to buy out the business.
Apollo has already stated its interest in the company before, but it’s now bringing a $4 billion offer to the table to back up its courtship, essentially beating Entain’s second bid of $3.5 billion. Should it succeed, Apollo would assume control over some of TAB’s most important assets in the country, including the poker machines the investment company seems interested in.
TAB could entertain the proposal and said that it would seek to carry out due diligence checks as well as potentially seek regulatory approval before it decided whether it could proceed with the deal. However, no final comment could be provided on Thursday, when TAB announced the news. In a statement, the company simply explained that it needed more time to assess the merits of the proposal:
“The Tabcorp board has not yet formed a view on the merits of the revised proposal and will assess it in the context of the previously announced strategic review.”
TAB has proven skilled at eliciting a strong bidding interest for its business. Entain has admittedly started somewhat low at $3 billion, but then the company proceeded with another bid, valued at $3.5 billion ahead of Apollo’s own offer.
Time to Sell or Time to Spin-Off?
However, Tabcorp is still not entirely decided on what to do with its business. The company is currently undergoing a review that will allow it to better assess what direction it wants to take, with selling the media and wagering business just one of the viable options.
Another option is to spin off the division as a separate ASX-listed entity and try to operate it separate from Tabcorp’s lotteries business.
Entain’s bid pivots mostly around the wagering and media arms, but not the pokies, as the company already operates Ladbrokes and Neds in Australia and may seek to consolidate its staying power in the sports wagering segment above all else.
In the meantime, Apollo is happy to buy out the pokies as well, giving it access to more assets, markets and possibly tempting Tabcorp to take the bid more seriously. All speculation aside, there are some challenges ahead.
For once, Tab will have to negotiate with state racing bodies that are dependent on funding through the company’s license deals. Understandably, they would want to make sure that whoever takes over would be supportive of the local racing industry at the very least.
As things stand, it’s unlikely that we have heard the last from Entain either, which has been one of the most transformative companies in the iGaming and betting industries of late, and especially following its rebranding from GVC Holdings.
Tabcorp’s share price continues to show resilience, and it’s trading at AU$5.09 or US$3.96 on Friday morning.