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Churchill buying online gaming firm

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Churchill buying online gaming firm

Post by jock2007 on Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:06 am

Churchill buying online gaming firm

Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. announced Wednesday that it is buying Seattle-based Big Fish Games, which bills itself as the world's largest producer and distributor of online games, in a deal worth up to $885 million.

In what is called a "definitive merger agreement," the announcement said Churchill will acquire all the outstanding stock and equity interests in the privately held Big Fish.

Big Fish's website says it was founded in 2002 and has become "the world's largest producer and distributor of casual games ... Through its mobile and online distribution platforms, Big Fish has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in 150 countries."

Big Fish has more than 450 mobile games and more than 3,500 personal computer games, according to its website, led by Big Fish Casino, which offers customers casino games without using money. The company has regional offices in Oakland and Luxembourg.

The base price is $485 million, with another payment of up to $350 million based on next year's earnings before taxes and other factors. Big Fish founder and current Chief Executive Officer Paul Thelen also can get a $50 million bonus.

Churchill will pay cash, except for $15 million in Churchill stock that will go to Thelen.

Both companies have approved the deal, but regulatory approvals are needed for the deal that is expected to close by year's end.

Churchill Chief Executive Officer Bill Carstanjen said in a statement that the deal builds on his company's real-money horse betting site TwinSpires.com.

"The acquisition of Big Fish and our entry into the rapidly growing mobile and online games industry gives us new products, new customers, new geographies and new sizeable growth opportunities," Carstanjen said. "While many will view this transaction as a logical extension to what we currently do with Twinspires.com, what is most important to us are the strong team and the processes and capabilities that have been built by Big Fish in Seattle, Oakland, and Luxembourg."
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