Australia's Aristocrat Leisure nets gaming company Big Fish for $990 million

(Reuters) - Gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure Ltd ALL.AX said on Thursday it will acquire Seattle-based gaming company Big Fish Games, a unit of Churchill Downs CHDN.O, for $990 million in cash to increase its social gaming footprint.

Aristocrat Leisure expects the acquisition to be earnings accretive in the first full year of ownership.

“Big Fish’s digital-first social casino content and industry-leading meta-game capability and applications are highly complementary to Aristocrat’s existing and industry-leading land based digital content business,” said Trevor Croker, chief executive officer of Aristocrat.

Aristocrat recently acquired social gaming company Plarium Global Ltd for $500 million in cash in a bid to expand its social casino business.

Aristocrat will fund the acquisition of Big Fish Games via existing cash and an incremental $890 million loan facility.

In a separate statement, Churchill Downs said the deal had been approved by its board of directors.

Aristocrat also announced a 41 percent rise in full-year reported net profit to A$495.1 million ($374.7 million), beating analysts’ average estimate of A$385.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

($1 = 1.3214 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin