Sky has a new pile of cash to add to its war chest today after it offloaded an 80% stake in its gambling arm, Sky Bet, to the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. In return it will receive £600m in cash on completion and up to a further £120m depending on future performance, valuing the company at approximately £800m.
Sky will retain the remaining 20% and a presence on the board, and Sky Bet’s current management team including its managing director, Richard Flint, will remain in place at its Leeds headquarters.
‘In the last ten years, we have successfully grown Sky Bet from a startup to one of the leading online betting and gaming companies in the UK,’ said Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch. ‘This transaction will allow us to focus further on the substantial growth opportunities in our core international pay TV business while realising significant value for our shareholders.'
The sale is likely to be inspired by at least one of two recent developments. Last month Sky completed a takeover of its Italian and German counterparts, dropping the old BSkyB name and pushing up its total funded (long-term) debt to an estimated £7bn.
BT’s courting of mobile operators O2 and EE will also have given Sky food for thought. The two have been battling it out in the markets for football TV rights and broadband, and now Sky will be mulling its own move into mobile.
Broadcasting and telecoms companies are increasingly beginning to resemble each other as they bid to become ‘quad-play’ businesses offering mobile, broadband, home phone and TV services under one roof. The question is, who moves next?