Business Irish

Saturday 10 December 2016

Dermot Smurfit Jr: My family made the decision to back my business after Dermot Desmond invested

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

GAN chief Dermot Smurfit Jr says interest shown by Dermot Desmond in the gaming technology also sparked his family’s backing Picture: Richard Eaton
GAN chief Dermot Smurfit Jr says interest shown by Dermot Desmond in the gaming technology also sparked his family’s backing Picture: Richard Eaton

Investment by Smurfit family members in gaming business GAN was prompted by an investment by Dermot Desmond, and not personal connections, GAN boss Dermot Smurfit Jr has said.

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Desmond's IIU Nominees upped a previously existing stake in GAN earlier last week via a £1.3m share placing. He now owns 4.6pc of the business.

Figures in GAN's annual report show that as of December 31 last, Dermot Smurfit Jr's uncle, Michael Smurfit Sr, had a near-10pc stake in the business, while his cousin, Smurfit Kappa boss Tony Smurfit, owned nearly 8.5pc.

"Dermot Desmond is the reason why my family members invested in GAN, not me, I didn't suddenly bang the table and say: 'Right, everybody invest.' It was Dermot Desmond's 2004 investment in what was then called Game Account, a private UK company, that triggered my family's interest because Dermot very much validated what it was we were trying to build," Dermot Smurfit Jr told the Sunday Independent.

"I hope that this significant re-engagement by Dermot Desmond and IIU in the GAN investment story will be galvanising in the same way," he added.

The GAN chief said the investment materialised after he met Desmond at a social event.

"I think it's fair to say that I bumped into Dermot Desmond as part of the whole Smurfit-Desmond social interconnections that take place from time to time. He was totally across what we were doing in the US and wanted to hear the pitch, and on the back of it said to me: 'How do I get to increase my stake in GAN?' And this happens from time to time, people say, how do I engineer an acquisition of shares... we thought there was huge merit in bringing him into the equity capital story in a way that's, frankly, meaningful for him."

GAN provides gaming technology to casinos and online operators. Its products encompass both real-money gambling and what GAN calls "simulated gaming" - selling virtual currency to players who use it to gamble on casino games for entertainment, not profit.

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