Aspire builds Q1 momentum through regulated market focus

Aspire Global said it is focusing more on locally regulated and taxed markets as it posted Q1 2020 revenues of €33.7m, up 1.5% from the same period of 2019.

The company confirmed that EBITDA during the period had decreased by 14.2% to €5.2m (Q1 2019: €6.1m), while EBITDA margin for January to March was 15.5%, almost three percentage points down from the corresponding period last year.

However, the month-on-month results showed that revenues climbed by 4.6% from Q4 2019’s €32.2m, EBITDA was up from €4.4m and EBITDA margin two percentage points better than the final three months of 2019 (13.5%).

The lower year-on-year EBITDA margin, said CEO Tsachi Maimon, reflected the company’s strategy of focusing on locally regulated and taxed markets where the margin on partner deals are lower. He explained that revenues from these areas are, over time, more sustainable and with less political risks.

“The good growth and improved profitability in Q1 2020 from Q4 2019 are encouraging and prove our business model to be efficient with a strong offering,” said Maimon. “Revenues increased by 4.6% from Q4 2019 with a substantial profitability increase as the EBITDA margin grew from 13.5% to 15.5%. In the quarter we saw limited impact from the pandemic. 

“However, as a consequence of the pandemic, players choose online entertainment over land based, and in April total trading volumes increased to about €13.5m, which is about 20% higher than the average monthly trading volume in Q1 2020.

“The world is going through challenging times during the pandemic. Early in the quarter we took proactive measures to reduce the health risks for the employees and to ensure business continuity. Thanks to a robust underlying business and dedicated employees, service levels remained high. 

“The impact from the cancellation of sports events was insignificant due to a limited exposure to sports and in Q4 2019 sports betting represented about 5% of total revenues. The sequential improvement is mainly due to a strong business momentum.”

Maimon also highlighted a “swift adaption” to new regulatory requirements in regulated markets such as the UK, where revenues were significantly increased from Q4 2019.

He explained: “It is encouraging to see that we have mitigated the impact in Q4 2019 from new regulatory requirements in markets such as the UK and from Q4 2019 revenues in the UK and Ireland increased by 35%. Compliance is on top of our agenda and we know that this is a key competitive advantage.”

We also learned that Aspire’s B2B core platform, which accounts for more than 50% of revenues, signed three new partner deals and launched two new brands in Q1 2020, while a sport vertical was added to an existing partner.

As of 1 January 2020, B2B – Games was added as a new sub segment to B2B reporting for Aspire to encompass revenues from Pariplay, the game aggregator and game studio which it completed the acquisition of in October 2019.

Pariplay positively contributed to the profitability in the quarter, said Maimon, as EBITDA from the games segment amounted to €784 thousand with an EBITDA margin of 25.1%.

Finally, Jesper Kärrbrink – former CEO of Mr Green and Svenska Spel – was appointed as Chairman of Pariplay in March 2020. Watch his keynote speech at last week’s SBC Digital Summit below:

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