PartyGaming gears up for float on LSE

PartyGaming, the world’s biggest poker website, has called in Financial Dynamics for what is expected to be the stock market listing of the FTSE 100’s first online gambling company.

PartyGaming, formerly known as iGlobalMedia, has officially appointed FD to handle PR around a financial review for which it has also hired investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DKW).

But observers believe Gibraltar-based PartyGaming wants to list on the

London Stock Exchange this year to capitalise on the market’s penchant for online gambling companies.

Shares in London-listed competitor Sportingbet rose by nearly 64 per cent after it bought Paradise Poker.

PartyGaming is thought to have made more than £185m in 2004. A flotation could value the company at between £2.1bn and £3.7bn.

Although PartyGaming would not be the only listed online gambling company, it would be a large vehicle for investors eager for a slice of the gambling boom. A survey published last week by Inside Edge and gambling website 888.com found the amount of money staked online had risen by 566 per cent since 2003.

The creation of such a large player in the online gambling sector could also be the catalyst for more rapid consolidation as other gambling companies go on a shopping spree to gain critical mass.

FD chief executive Charles Watson declined to give further details of the firm’s role beyond the review by DKW.

News analysis, p20

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