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Friday, July 13, 2012

Bwin.party warns over 'predictable' Euro 2012 results; Zynga is "all in" to acquire Bwin.party-owned poker business Ongame: Report

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Bwin.party warns over 'predictable' Euro 2012 results...

Bwin.party digital entertainment, the world’s largest listed online gaming company, said a run of “predictable” results in the Euro 2012 football championships marred an otherwise “solid” second quarter performance.

The football tournament, in which all of the favourites progressed to the later stages, is believed to have hit the betting industry hard this summer.

Bwin said customer numbers and activity rose during the tournament but gross margins were “lower than expected”.

Despite this, the online gambling group said its casino and bingo products helped offset the weakness in sports betting and “continued pressures” in poker.

Bwin had been in negotiations with Shuffle Master (NasdaqGS: SHFL - news) to offload Ongame, its poker network, but talks were aborted at the end of last month after the two sides failed to reach agreement.

In a pre-close trading update on Tuesday, bwin said several parties were interested in buying Ongame.

The group claims it has reached a top three market position in Spain, where online gaming was recently opened up by authorities.

Looking ahead, the company warned gaming taxes in Germany and an investment in social games games that are played through sites such as Facebook would impact its performance in the second half. (News Corp)


Zynga is “all in” to acquire Bwin.party-owned poker business Ongame: Report...

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga is poised to take over online poker provider Ongame Network from its current owner, Internet gambling powerhouse Bwin.party.

An exclusive report from eGaming Review (eGR) – behind a paywall – says Zynga is ‘leading the race’ to acquire Ongame, although there are four other unnamed bidders at the table (poker pun intended).

Zynga has made a ‘verbal offer’, according to eGR’s sources, and have reportedly visited Ongame’s Stockholm headquarters last Friday.

Gambling table and slot machine maker Shuffle Master had already agreed and announced that it would be purchasing for up to $38.9 million in cash in February 2012, but it dropped those plans last week.

Interestingly, Shuffle Master said it would pay out 10 million euros ($12.6 million) of that total purchase price within five years of the transaction closing, provided that real-money online poker would be legal in the United States within such period – something that will happen eventually but is taking time.

Not familiar with Ongame? Here’s what they do, according to their website:

Ongame is the world’s leading B2B online poker provider, serving partnes including bwin, Betfair, Betsson and Unibet. Reaching over 20 million customers in more than 25 markets, with an international network licensed in Gibraltar, as well as regional networks in Italy and France.

Ongame is the premier choice for sportsbook operators, providing a poker environment optimized for recreational players and a proven track record of increasing partner revenues.

Ongame claims P5, the game engine powering its poker offering, is the ‘most advanced poker engine ever designed’.

The company is owned by Bwin.party as a result of an earlier merger, and has been dubbed by the latter as a ‘surplus asset’.

Zynga of course offers a wildly popular poker game called – wait for it – Zynga Poker, which can be played on Zynga.com, Facebook, iOS and Android devices.

In fact, Zynga Poker was the company’s very first game.

It certainly makes a lot of sense for them to buy Ongame Networks, even if it’s to keep it out of the hands of other players looking to move online with poker games as soon as it becomes legal in the US, and the company certainly has the cash on hand to make this kind of acquisition.


'Amazing Spider-Man' finishes weekend with $62M...

LOS ANGELES (AP) "The Amazing Spider-Man" had a slightly slower start at the box office than initially estimated, taking in $62 million domestically over opening weekend.

The final numbers Monday came in $3 million lower than the $65 million that distributor Sony had projected a day earlier, but it still was a healthy start for the new take on the Marvel Comics superhero.

Since opening last Tuesday, "The Amazing Spider-Man" has taken in $137 million domestically. Its worldwide total is about $340 million since it began rolling out overseas the previous week.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Hollywood.com are:

1. "The Amazing Spider Man," Sony, $62,004,688, 4,318 locations, $14,360 average, $137,022,258, one week.

2. "Ted," Universal, $32,202,395, 3,256 locations, $9,890 average, $119,849,740, two weeks.

3. "Brave," Disney, $19,612,370, 3,891 locations, $5,040 average, $173,969,341, three weeks.

4. "Savages," Universal, $16,016,910, 2,628 locations, $6,095 average, $16,016,910, one week.

5. "Magic Mike," Warner Bros., $15,642,337, 3,120 locations, $5,014 average, $72,829,107, two weeks.

6. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection," Lionsgate, $10,177,029, 2,161 locations, $4,709 average, $45,822,984, two weeks.

7. "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," Paramount, $7,520,690, 2,861 locations, $2,629 average, $195,905,126, five weeks.

8. "Katy Perry: Part of Me," Paramount, $7,138,266, 2,730 locations, $2,615 average, $10,240,213, one week.

9. "Moonrise Kingdom," Focus Features, $4,519,195, 884 locations, $5,112 average, $26,780,989, seven weeks.

10. "To Rome with Love," Sony Pictures Classics, $3,104,328, 806 locations, $3,852 average, $4,863,538, three weeks.

11. "People Like Us," Disney, $2,194,535, 2,055 locations, $1,068 average, $9,190,902, two weeks.

12. "The Avengers," Disney, $2,168,124, 1,125 locations, $1,927 average, $611,127,884, 10 weeks.

13. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," Fox, $1,944,534, 1,657 locations, $1,174 average, $34,050,910, three weeks.

14. "Prometheus," Fox, $1,815,500, 1,105 locations, $1,643 average, $122,390,274, five weeks.

15. "Snow White & the Huntsman," Universal, $1,768,355, 1,152 locations, $1,535 average, $149,756,565, six weeks.

16. "Men in Black 3," Sony, $1,680,714, 879 locations, $1,912 average, $173,089,690, seven weeks.

17. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," Fox Searchlight, $741,091, 359 locations, $2,064 average, $41,991,873, 10 weeks.

18. "Rock of Ages," Warner Bros., $639,406, 701 locations, $912 average, $36,974,619, four weeks.

19. "That's My Boy," Sony, $621,656, 400 locations, $1,554 average, $36,100,833, four weeks.

20. "Bol Bachchan," FIP, $561,996, 98 locations, $5,735 average, $561,996, one week.

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


Broker snap: Taxing times for bwin.party, says Peel Hunt...

Peel Hunt has pared its target price for online gaming group bwin.party digital entertainment from 140p to 124p and maintained its ‘hold’ rating on the stock.

‘The H1 pre-close held few surprises and no real catalyst to get the shares moving. At the current point the rating reflects concerns about Germany and a lack of visibility in many of the group’s markets,’ said analyst Nick Batram.

‘This is unlikely to change in the short term and further downgrades reflect the uncertain margin environment.’

The broker says that the uncertain regulatory backdrop continues to hit the bottom line, with federal sports taxes in Germany set to reduce EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) by EUR5-10m.

Peel Hunt has reduced its clean EBITDA forecast by EUR10m to EUR165m for the year ending December 2012. The 2013 EBITDA estimate has been cut from EUR196m to EUR175m.

‘While regulation is the main factor, the business’s underlying performance is also a growing concern, particularly the rate at which poker is going backwards,’ Batram said.

Shares were down 3.25% at 104.3p by 10:56 on Tuesday.


Roger Moore croons 007 birthday song...

PARIS — One-time 007 Roger Moore has teamed up with a former Bond Girl to record a song marking 50 years of the spy's on-screen adventures, a James Bond fan club said on Wednesday.

The 84-year-old British actor took over Bond film duties from Sean Connery in 1973, making his debut in "Live and Let Die" before completing the sequence with "A View to a Kill" 12 years later.

He teamed up with Irka Bochenko, his co-star in the 1979 film "Moonraker", for the anniversary duet titled "Happy Birthday Mr. Bond!", the spy's French fan club told AFP.

Extracts will be posted online at www.jamesbond007.net ahead of the record's release in September.

Hundreds of items -- from tuxedos to bikinis and vodka martinis -- went on show at London's Barbican Centre last week to mark 50 years since Bond made the jump from Ian Fleming's novels to the silver screen with the 1962 "Dr No".

The next Bond movie, "Skyfall", directed by Sam Mendes with Daniel Craig as the glamorous spy, will hit world screens from October.

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