Tapie Backs Out of Full Tilt Poker Purchase
The purchase and re-launching of Full Tilt Poker is off! Laurent Tapie announced the stunning news in a statement to eGaming Review´s Tom Victor, who then went on Quadjacks radio to confirm the breaking news.
This all happened within a couple of hours on Tuesday afternoon and shortly after a thread started on the popular 2+2 forum that PokerStars had bought Full Tilt Poker in a deal worth $750 million which included a settlement with the Department of Justice and repayment of full balances to all players.
Major Shock After 7 Months of “Hard Work”
In the statement released to eGaming Review, Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) announced that there were two major stumbling blocks which were responsible for the failure of the deal – the repayment of funds to Full Tilt Players from the Rest of the World (RoW) and the legality of the key assets of the Full Tilt Poker group of companies which could be interpreted as a “fraudulent transaction” outside of the U.S. as GBT did not have the full amount of funds to repay RoW players, and were working on a scheme to allow selective withdrawals depending on the player activity.
Rumours of PokerStars Takeover Still to be Confirmed
The press release and rumours circulating on the 2+2 forum indicated that PokerStars had struck a deal with the Department of Justice to purchase Full Tilt Poker, repay all the outstanding monies owed to players and fine whichever fines were levied on the company. No confirmation of the rumour was forth-coming from PokerStars, but they are usually quick to deny such allegations when there is no truth behind them. If the rumour is true, it will be excellent news for players from the US who have had their poker bankrolls suspended on Full Tilt Poker for more than a year, as PokerStars paid out their outstanding balances within two weeks of Black Friday.
The Full Statement from Groupe Bernard Tapie
“Groupe Bernard Tapie regrets to announce that, after seven months of intensive work, our efforts to obtain final approval of the United States Department of Justice of the agreement to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker have ended without success. Ultimately, the deal failed due to two major issues.
The parties could not agree on a plan for repayment of ROW players.
GBT proposed a plan that would have resulted in immediate reinstatement of all ROW player balances, with a right to withdraw those funds over time, based on the size of the player balance and the extent of the player’s playing activity on the re-launched site. All players would have been permitted complete withdrawal of their balances, regardless of whether they played on the site, by a date certain, and 94.9% of ROW players would have been fully repaid on day 1. DOJ ultimately insisted on full repayment with right of withdrawal within 90 days for all players– a surprise demand made in the 11th hour, after months of good-faith negotiations by GBT.
The legal complications surrounding the deal – specifically, questions surrounding the legality of the forfeiture under non-US laws – also proved unresolvable.
All of the key assets of the FTP companies reside outside of the United States. A non-US court well might regard the purported forfeiture as a “fraudulent transaction” and declare it invalid or deem the acquirer of the assets responsible for all of those creditor obligations.
Given the $80 million purchase price, and the substantial amount of cash needed to relaunch FTP, those issues ultimately proved too substantial to overcome.
GBT is very conscious of the hopes it has created – among FTP employees that they will retain their jobs, among FTP players that they will recover their balances, and among the entire poker community that the world’s finest poker platform will be relaunched and bring a needed added element of competition to a world market that today is fully dominated by a single operator.
GBT cannot accept the end of those hopes.
For that reason, unless a concrete and legally viable solution is found in the very coming days to save the employees and repay the players of FTP, we will move to our own plan of action.
We understand from press reports that the DOJ may have entered into an agreement with PokerStars pursuant to which PokerStars will acquire the FTP assets. If accurate, we can only assume that PokerStars determined that it was willing to accept these legal and financial risks in order to resolve its own legal situation with DOJ. If a PokerStars acquisition of FTP means that all FTP players will be fully repaid immediately, we are very happy for the players, as their final and full repayment has always been our priority.
We only regret that such a deal would signal further consolidation of a poker market already dominated by a single player – an outcome that may raise antitrust concerns and that, in the long run, is probably not good for players and for the whole online poker industry.”