Entain has rolled-out a designated growth strategy for Central and Eastern Europe that has kicked-off with the €800m purchase of Croatian online casino and sports betting operator Supersport.
This comes alongside the establishment of Entain CEE, whose ownership is split 75 per cent to 25 per cent between the former GVC and Emma Capital, and takes Entain’s total transactions for the year-to-date to five.
The deal is for an initial consideration of €800m, of which €600m is payable in cash on completion that is expected to occur in the fourth quarter.
Entain CEE, which is praised as a “springboard” for expansion across the region, will be led by Radim Haluza, Supersport CEO. Any future potential payments to Emma Capital will be based on the performance of the business through to 2024.
Alongside this latest acquisition, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, commented: “We continue to explore both organic and M&A prospects across growing regulated markets, including Latin and Central America and Central and Eastern Europe, that will drive further value for shareholders.”
This comes as the group reports an 18 per cent net gaming revenue uptick through the year’s second quarter to £2.11bn (2021: £1.79bn), with a continued retail revitalisation held back by further online drawbacks.
“We continue to make excellent progress on our strategic priorities, with momentum in our business remaining strong as a result of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do,” Nygaard-Andersen said.
Digital NGR dropped seven percentage points, or three when excluding the Netherlands, to £1.44bn (2021: £1.56bn), with gaming and sports down nine per cent and six per cent to £752.7m (2021: £825.9m) and £702.9m (2021: £751.1m), respectively.
“Whilst online NGR was down on the prior year, the underlying health of the business remains particularly strong”
Entain cited “strong prior year comparators” as being behind the declines, which continue a trend for Q1, however, Enlabs was pinpointed as a highlight with growth of 18 per cent across the Balkans region.
In the US, BetMGM is said to remain on course for NGR of $1.3bn across the year after the first half of 2022 delivered $608m. Entain also reports that the MGM joint venture is the “established number two operator” with a 23 per cent market share
“Whilst online NGR was down on the prior year, the underlying health of the business remains particularly strong with active customer numbers in H1 higher than they have ever been,” it was noted.
Retail enjoyed a 232 per cent NGR uplift to £636m (2021: £191.3m) through the April to June time frame, with customers said to be “returning in strength”. In Entain’s two largest retail estates, the UK and Italy, volumes are ahead of pre-COVID levels.
Furthermore, Q2 gross profit is reported as increasing 17 per cent to close the period at £1.32bn (2021: £1.13bn), with underlying EBITDA also up by the aforementioned percentage points to £471m (2021: £401.1m).
“I am delighted that more customers are choosing to play with us as we focus on providing them with even better products, engaging content and exciting experiences,” Nygaard-Andersen continued.
“This has resulted in our highest ever level of actives in H1, up 57 per cent versus the same period two years ago. Not only is this approach great for our customers, but it also provides us with a broader, more recreational customer base that will support more sustainable long-term revenues.
Adding: “We have established a meaningful runway for sustainable and high quality growth. While we remain vigilant to the consumer backdrop, our geographic and product diversity provides resilience which, together with our proven ability to drive superior returns, gives us confidence that we will continue to deliver benefits for our stakeholders.”