January 3, 2018 / 8:36 AM / a year ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Fortuna shareholder to launch offer for company

(Refiles to read ‘an offer’, paragraph 1’)

PRAGUE, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Fortuna Entertainment Group’s majority shareholder, Fortbet Holdings Limited, will launch an offer for the company at 182.50 crowns per share, the Czech betting company said on Wednesday.

Fortuna, which operates in the Czech, Slovak, Polish, Romanian and Croatian markets, said the offer would be announced on Wednesday and would involve delisting the shares in Prague and Warsaw.

“(Fortuna’s) boards fully support and recommend the offer for acceptance... and also recommend voting in favour of Fortuna making the delisting application,” Fortuna said.

The shares were up 1.1 percent at 180.5 crowns in Prague at 0824 GMT.

Fortbet’s offer would value Fortuna at 9.49 billion crowns ($447.83 million) and subscription is planned for Jan. 23 to Feb. 23, Fortuna said.

Fortbet, part of Czech-Slovak investment group Penta Investments, already owns 79.8 percent of Fortuna.

The offer would be Fortbet’s second bid to gain full control after a buyout in the first half of 2017 raised its stake from a 68 percent share.

Fortuna said in its statement a delisting would free it from public disclosures that it said left it at a disadvantage to competitors.

Being unlisted would make it easier to take advantage of market opportunities and be more aggressive in acquisitions, as well as cost savings, it said.

Fortbet sent Fortuna an indicative offer of 170 crowns per share at the beginning of December and agreed to raise the offer, Fortuna said.

The offer price assumes no dividends for 2017 are paid.

Fortuna’s second biggest shareholder, Templeton Asset Management, did not take part in the first offer. Its representatives could not be reached for immediate comment.

Fortuna reported a 78 percent rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to 28.3 million euros for the first nine months of 2017. The total amounts staked rose by 69 percent to 1.3 billion euros. ($1 = 21.1910 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by Jason Neely)

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