Gambling Website To Be Worth £4.8bn - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Online gambling firm Partygaming will be valued at some £4.76bn when it floats on the Stock Exchange in the next few days. The company has confirmed reports that it will be selling just short of 782 million shares at between 111 pence and 127 pence each.

The shares offer will raise between £996m and £1.139bn, making it the London Stock Exchange (LSE: LSE.L - news) 's biggest flotation for almost four years.It would propel the firm, the world's biggest online poker group, straight into the FTSE (news) 100 - trading is expected to begin on June 27.

Partygaming has also promised investors a dividend bonanza, saying it expects to pay out around £110m in 2005.It has grown rapidly from nothing and has already made its founders millionaires many times over The flotation will give 1,000 staff in the UK, Gibraltar and India a 5.6% stake in the group as well as bringing huge windfalls for its four owners.Operations director Anurag Dikshit, husband-and-wife team Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon and Vikrant Bhargava, who own the group between them, could net £850m from the proposed sale of 23% of their shares.

PartyGaming, which owns and runs the world's biggest online poker brand, PartyPoker, is cashing in on the growing popularity of internet gamblingMany thousands of people worldwide play poker online on PartyPoker.com every day, Partygaming's success put down to the fact that they can do so anonymously, without having to go to a casino or gaming club.But its critics have claimed that it encourages gambling - sometimes among those who cannot afford it.Chief Executive Richard Segal said the rise of the busines to date had been "extraordinary" and a share offer was "the next logical step in the group's evolution."

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