Online betting group Flutter to buy Italy's Sisal for $2.2 bln

DUBLIN, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Betfair and Poker Stars owner Flutter Entertainment (FLTRF.L) is to buy Italian gaming operator Sisal for 1.62 billion pounds ($2.16 billion) in a deal it said would more than double its share of the Italian online gaming market to around 20%.

The Italian firm, which also runs retail and online gaming business in Turkey and Morocco and is in the race to run the UK National Lottery, is currently owned by CVC Capital Partners, which bought it in 2016.

Italy, Europe's second largest regulated gambling market, has seen the online share of gaming revenue double to 20% since the start of the pandemic, Flutter said, adding that it expected a sizeable proportion of that to remain online.

The combination of Sisal with Flutter's existing online Italian presence through PokerStars and Betfair will result in a combined online share of 20%, Flutter said.

"I'm excited to see how Flutter can complement these capabilities through our scale, differentiated products and operational capabilities," said Flutter Chief Executive Peter Jackson.

Flutter shares were up 2.8% at 0822 GMT.

The transaction, financed by debt, is likely to complete during the second three months of 2022 and is expected to be accretive to adjusted earnings in the first 12 months, Flutter said.

Sisal, which employs 2,500 people, expects to generate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation of 248 million euros ($281 million) in the 12 months to December 2021, with 58% coming from its online offering, the statement said.

Before the Flutter announcement, Sisal had been planning an initial public offering (IPO) to list its shares on the Milan Stock Exchange. read more

Flutter last month acquired Tombola, one of the UK's leading online bingo operators, for 402 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7489 pounds)

($1 = 0.8834 euros)

Reporting by Conor Humphries in Dublin and Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi, Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman

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