In October, content and sports betting data supplier PA Betting Services announced the acquisition of racing data provider iRace Media.
SBC speaks exclusively to PA Betting Services’ Director Eugene Delaney and iRace Media’s Founder and CEO Steve Levar about the opportunities the deal presents for both sides, the structure of the combined group and how it could potentially grow with further acquisitions in the next few years.
SBC: What was it about iRace Media that made it an attractive acquisition prospect for PA Betting Services, and why did this feel like the right deal for iRace Media?
Eugene Delaney: From a PA Betting Services perspective, we’ve had ambitions to grow our global footprint and have been looking at regions all over the world. We want to work with partners that have good relationships with official data rights holders. When we were reviewing the marketplace, iRace Media seemed like an excellent fit because its services complement ours, most notably iRace’s complete Asian racing data set and the excellent relationships it has with rights holders. The company became a very high priority on our target list.
Combining both our services to provide an enhanced offering will solve a lot of problems for our customers, because rather than them having to deal with multiple contracts and integrations, we will be able to supply everything across both businesses.
Steve Levar: When I initially discussed this opportunity with Eugene, I recognised a significant advantage in the complementary strengths of PA Betting Services and iRace Media. Each possessed attributes that could benefit the other party, and I saw potential to create a synergistic partnership. This strategic union, in terms of data information, will facilitate rapid growth for us.
Whilst we already boasted a high-quality B2B client base, partnering with PA introduces us to clients previously beyond our reach. Expanding on our own via an undercutting strategy would have been a risky game, and potentially unprofitable and time-consuming. However, upon careful consideration of this acquisition, the numbers aligned in our favour. This collaboration will position us to evolve into one of the largest racing data companies globally. The prospect not only allows for substantial growth, but is also supported by the robust infrastructure and backing that PA provides outside Asia, complementing our existing strengths in the Asian region.
SBC: To what extent will PA adapt or change iRace’s offering and strategy in the long term?
ED: iRace is a successful business that has both B2C and B2B capabilities. The B2C team knows exactly what it is doing and is growing that area, so there’s nothing that we need to integrate there. From a B2B perspective, combining both our services to provide an enhanced offering will solve a lot of problems for our customers because we will be able to supply everything centrally.
The main change that customers will see is a global database that will provide access to all thoroughbred races through a single API. We will do something similar with greyhounds in time. We will make changes from a technology and contracting point of view to make it seamless. Ultimately, our partners will see one entity that has global capabilities.
SBC: What can you say about the management structure that will now be in place as a result of the deal?
SL: I’ve chosen to retain an equity stake in the company, a decision integral to my commitment to the business. Unlike entrepreneurs seeking an exit strategy, I was not looking to cash out and retire. My intention, from the outset and continuing into the future, is to foster the long-term growth of the business. Whether we achieve a fivefold, tenfold, or even twentyfold expansion, I aim to be an active participant in that success. This isn’t a straightforward acquisition earnout deal; rather, I envision myself remaining an integral part of the company for an extended period. iRace has demonstrated remarkable success over the 17 years of my ownership, boasting sustained profitability. We were not simply in pursuit of a cash injection, but rather the right partner to catalyse growth.
SBC: The press release announcing the deal mentioned that iRace Media will continue to operate as a standalone business, but to what extent will PA be involved in day-to-day management in the long term?
SL: Achieving success involves rendering oneself dispensable, and that aspect likely contributed to the appeal for PA. iRace, fortunately, doesn’t hinge solely on my involvement; the team is highly competent and the business is self-sufficient. However, no matter its success, acquiring iRace would have been futile without the right individual at the helm, and fortunately, PA recognised my fit for that role. It has extended its complete support for me to oversee operations in this region.
SBC: How likely are you to look towards further acquisitions in the next few years? If so, which types of businesses will you look to acquire?
ED: Racing is quite complicated as you move from territory to territory compared to other sports, because of the types of integrations and contracts that are required. M&A will always be a consideration when it comes to enhancing our offering, simplifying the process for our customers and/or entering new international territories.
SL: We are open to exploring new opportunities with businesses that bring something new to the table. I have identified several potential candidates that could complement our group in the future. The key criterion is their ability to introduce information or elements not currently within our purview. Investing significant resources in a long-term project is one approach, but acquiring a business already equipped with that information can save time and resources.
Given the ongoing consolidation in the racing industry, I anticipate more opportunities arising in the next year or two. I will engage with the team to discuss potential ventures aligned with the Asian market perspective that could prove beneficial to our overall strategy.
SBC: Where do you expect both PA Betting Services and iRace Media to be in five years as a result of this deal?
ED: From a customer perspective, we want the journey to be extremely clean and simple. In future, you will see much easier integrations for customers, enhanced products and localised, translated content. It’s quite exciting combining both sides. The main aim is to simplify the consumer journey with an enhanced offering.
SL: Our objective is to provide comprehensive solutions for clients, eliminating the need for them to gather data from various sources. We aspire to offer complete industry solutions from a singular, trusted and reliable source. The PA brand embodies that trust.