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Bwin.party Releases Strong First Half Numbers

Online gambling giant Bwin.party Digital Online Gambling Group has released its first half financial results for 2011, and the results show a strong performance by the Gibraltar based company.

Bwin Co-CEOS Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger issued a statement based on the company results, saying “We have made excellent progress on integrating bwin and PartyGaming since the Merger was completed at the end of March 2011. The results for the first half reflect our transition to becoming a global leader in all four product verticals with strong market positions in all key regulated markets. The expansion of online gaming in newly regulating markets has delivered promising levels of revenue growth, albeit with additional costs in the form of gaming taxes and compliance costs.

"However, we are encouraged by a number of recent developments where governments are recognising the need to create a commercially sustainable regulated market without which consumers will simply seek out more attractive offers on the ‘black market’. We expect that this will result in further favourable long-term changes to existing and future regulatory frameworks.

“The absence of the FIFA World Cup, the closure of French casino and increased gaming taxes need to be taken into account when comparing our year-on-year performance."

The two executives also issued comments based on the company's performance since June 30th, saying “Since 30 June 2011, the Group’s revenue performance has been strong. The suspension of Full Tilt Poker’s gaming license at the end of June removed a major competitor in poker and consequently we have seen an improvement in player numbers and average daily revenues.

"In addition, our launch of cash game poker and certain casino games in Italy has started well, even though this is the seasonally weak trading period. Whilst the new regulatory regime in Spain requires gaming duties to be paid with effect from 29 May 2011, this is being met by our strong current trading performance.

"Whilst the regulatory picture can be expected to continue to shift against a challenging macroeconomic and competitive backdrop, our strong brands and market positions, healthy balance sheet and net cash resources mean that we remain confident about the Group’s prospects for the rest of the year and beyond.

“Further to the announcement on 30 June 2011, the Board has declared an interim dividend totalling €15 million and has also initiated a programme to buy up to €75 million ordinary shares in the period ending 30 June 2012.”

Key Indicators for Bwin in the first half of 2011 include:

  • Pro forma total revenue was down 3% over the same period last year to €398 million. This is seen as being due to the closure of the company's French online casino operations, higher results last year due to the FIFA World Cup, and competitive pressures in poker.

  • Pro forma EBITDA from continuing operations was down 21% over the same period last year to €81.9 million for the same reasons listed above in addition to increased gaming duties from regulated markets. If the results are adjusted, pro forma EBITDA was up 8% over the same period last year to €98.9 million. Actual EBITDA from continuing operations was up 16% to €50.9 million.

  • Net cash at the end of the first half was €183 million, up from €53.5 million last year.

  • The gambling group started a share buyback program for up to €75 in normal shares.

  • Expected annual synergies rose from €55 million to €65 million in 2013.

  • The company completed a merge on March 31st, with Party Gaming plc joining bwin Interactive Entertainment AG.

  • The board is confident the company will meet its expectations in the full year outlook.

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