Operator of major Metro Vancouver casinos acquired by US equity firm

Nov 17 2020, 10:45 am

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has been acquired by Apollo Global Management in a deal worth CAD $3.3 billion, based on a share price of CAD $39.

The company is the operator of over two dozen casino properties across four provinces, including nine properties within BC.

It also operates most casino properties in the Lower Mainland, including River Rock Casino, Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, Hastings Racecourse & Casino, Chances Maple Ridge, and Elements Casino locations in Surrey and Chilliwack.

The acquisition price was a 59% premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price as of November 9.

Following the conclusion of the deal, Great Canadian will remain headquartered in Toronto, led by a Canadian management team and board of directors.

Apollo, based in New York, states it has experience in investing in companies in highly regulated industries, including the casino business. The American investment firm intends to maintain Great Canadian’s current locations and expand its footprint over the medium- and longer-term.

“Great Canadian is a leader in the gaming and entertainment industry and, based on our experience and knowledge of the space, we see opportunities to work with their talented team to drive additional growth and value,” said Alex van Hoek, partner at Apollo, in a statement.

“With an industry-leading portfolio of assets and established presence in the best geographic markets across Canada, we are excited to help bring an enhanced experience to more guests across Canada.”

The casino operator has been battered by COVID-19 health safety closures across the enterprise, with no end in sight leading to the reopening of its properties. Within British Columbia, Great Canadian is also at the centre of a money laundering inquiry, specifically with its operations of the flagship River Rock Casino.

“We are pleased that this transaction represents a great opportunity for our shareholders, while continuing to support the success of the business longer term. We believe this transaction is beneficial for our shareholders, our team members, our guests, and other stakeholders as we continue to execute on our operational and development plans into 2021 and beyond, while we navigate through this volatile time,” said Rod Baker, the CEO of Great Canadian.

“In addition, we believe Apollo’s extensive experience in the gaming sector will provide additional strategic benefits to help expand our gaming and hospitality offerings and to secure our position as a long-term market leader.”

The acquisition requires not only the approval of shareholders but also various approvals by provincial and federal regulators and the Supreme Court of BC. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

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