Breaking News: PokerStars To Buy Full Tilt Poker

In an interesting twist to the ongoing saga of Full Tilt Poker, it has emerged that PokerStars will now purchase the company, settle the issues with the US Department of Justice and return funds in the region of $330 million to Full Tilt players.

It had been thought that Groupe Bernard Tapie were close to agreeing on a deal to buy Full Tilt Poker and they had been the front runners to do so for some time, but it has come to light that PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, will now purchase Full Tilt Poker, once their bitter rivals in the world of online poker, for a sum thought to be in the region of $750 million.

In the last hour, Groupe Bernard Tapie have issued a statement that confirms the Full Tilt Poker deal is indeed off, stating that “after seven months of intensive work, our efforts … to acquire the assets of Full Tilt Poker have ended without success”. The full statement, which hints at sabotage by PokerStars, can be seen below.

In the meantime, it has been confirmed that leading online poker site PokerStars will now purchase Full Tilt Poker. Rumours and speculation were swirling around the internet earlier today, fuelled by Chilipoker CEO Alexandre Dreyfus who took to Twitter to say: “PokerStars buys Full Tilt for a consideration of $750m, including settlement with DOJ and full balances of players ($330m). I’m impressed.”

The speculation has since been confirmed and it looks as though PokerStars will purchase Full Tilt Poker for a sum believed to be in the region of $750 million, though specific details of the agreement have yet to emerge.

In his usual candid style, Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negranu, who has been vocal on the Full Tilt Poker issue for some time, described any buy out by PokerStars as “good for poker players, because PokerStars is a good company and players wouldn’t have to deal with those scumbags [Full Tilt Poker] anymore.”

Here is the Groupe Bernard Tapie statement regarding the failed attempt to purchase Full Tilt Poker in full:

“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.”

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