Web gaming firm Cassava eyes London listing - paper - Friday 12th of August 2005

Online gaming firm Cassava Enterprises, the owner of the 888.com poker Web site, is preparing for a speedy flotation in order to fund a large takeover, the Sunday Express reported.

Cassava is believed to be mulling a bid for its rival PokerStars, the worlds second largest Internet poker firm, the newspaper said, citing unidentified City sources.

They added that Cassavas lead banker, HSBC (HSBA.L: Quote, Profile, Research)(0005.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), was planning to list the company on the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L: Quote, Profile, Research) in an 850-million-pound flotation this autumn, the Express said.

Cassava may join several other online gaming companies to list in London in recent months as online poker and other Internet games surge in popularity.

PartyGaming (PRTY.L: Quote, Profile, Research), the world leader with more than half the online gaming market, went public in June at a value of about 4.6 billion pounds.

Once listed, the company would then probably try to take over PokerStars, the newspaper quoted the sources as saying.

"It would not surprise me at all if 888 was looking to buy PokerStars," the paper quoted one banker familiar with the situation as saying. "There is bound to be a lot of consolidation in the sector.

Cassava, which was unavailable to comment, was founded by Israeli brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked, and Shai and Ron Ben Yitzhak and is based in Gibraltar.

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