Eddie Jordan (centre)

Former F1 team manager Eddie Jordan to lead $1bn bid for OpenBet

Eddie Jordan, the Irish businessman who made his name in Formula One management and analysis, is leading a $1 billion bid for Scientific GamesOpenBet sports betting division, according to The Currency.

The planned takeover was reportedly confirmed by former Australian Formula One racing driver Mark Webber in an Instagram post, describing the development as ‘a mega acquisition in gaming’.

Nasdaq-listed Scientific Games put OpenBet on the market last month after conducting a strategy review of the company, with the objective being to ‘significantly de-lever and positioning the Company for enhanced growth’.

The firm has experienced a substantial increase in its corporate debt over the past decade, with its $5.1 billion acquisition of Bally’s Technology in 2014 driving the figure to $8.5 billion.

Reduction of this debt had been a primary goal of the company even prior to the financial turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debt currently stands at $9.5 billion, more than $4 billion over the company’s market capitalisation of $5.40 billion.

Managed by Ethan O’Loughlin, SGC’s US-facing OpenBet division is valued at $6.2 billion, and handles around $10 billion in wagers annually. It employs a workforce of 1,100 and serves prominent international sportsbook operators including Flutter Entertainment‘s Paddy Power and Betfair brands.

As the global sports betting industry continues to expand rapidly – perhaps best demonstrated by developments in North America, which have seen numerous US states and most recently Canada open their markets to the sector – the sale of OpenBet will likely come across as a quick solution to SGC’s debt problems, as a number of interested suitors can be expected.

O’Loughlin, a former CEO of Irish bookmaker BoyleSports Online, Director at Coral prior to its merger with Ladbrokes and Executive Vice President of OpenBet prior to its sale to SGC by NYX Gaming Group, is reportedly supportive of Jordan’s bid, having maintained a long-term friendship with his fellow Irish businessman.

Outside of his motorsports career, Jordan has been involved in numerous other investments, including in the betting and gaming industry, as well as in other sectors such as football – in particular Celtic FC– golf clubs, vodka and energy drinks.

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