Business Irish

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Smurfit Jnr ready to up his game as clients grow

GAN considers taking stock market route to expansion as profits soar

Betfair's increase in market share is good news for Dermot Smurfit Jnr
Betfair's increase in market share is good news for Dermot Smurfit Jnr
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish-backed GameAccount Network (GAN), the London-based gaming software firm headed by Dermot Smurfit Jnr, is considering a stock market listing that could finance further expansion.

A decision on whether or not to pursue a flotation will be made either this year or next, Mr Smurfit told the Irish Independent.

If a flotation does happen, the business is likely to command an attractive valuation after winning clients including firms such as Paddy Power, William Hill, Boyle Sports and Rank Group.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) reached €4m in the first six months of 2013, compared to €500,000 in the whole of 2012.

Turnover is expected to hit €30m this year compared to €20m in 2012.

Chief executive Dermot Smurfit said that the board was currently considering its options, but that no decision had yet been made.

The company is currently examining opportunities that could require significant capital investment and they could influence whatever route it decides to take, he said.

GAN had also considered a flotation about a decade ago, he said.

"The only thing better than being rich and famous is being rich," said Mr Smurfit. "There's nothing wrong with staying as a private company." However, he said going public was "definitely one of the options available" to the firm.

A slew of Irish investors own stakes in the business. Among them are members of the Smurfit family including Michael Smurfit Snr, as well as financier Dermot Desmond and Betfair founder Andrew Black.

Mr Desmond sold his Betdaq betting exchange earlier this year to Ladbrokes for €30m.

Other investors in GAN include Dublin businessman Peter Gleeson, whose father was involved with what was then the Jefferson Smurfit packaging group. He was also later a director of the firm. Mr Smurfit is a founding funder of GAN, having come on board over a decade ago. He owns 10pc of the company.

GAN has over 50 electronic gaming platforms that includes well-known games such as blackjack, roulette, poker and backgammon. It licences its gaming software to clients who can then brand them as their own. In Italy, which is GAN's biggest market after the UK, the company's products power 60pc of the country's entire gaming market. It has also been increasing its presence in Spain and the US.

Mr Smurfit said that GAN has been careful about the markets it enters, to ensure that it only operates within legal frameworks that exist.

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