Empire Online already worth $1 billion - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

Is online gambling company Empire Online Ltd. (AIM:EOL) about to make an acquisition? A company announcement today implies that the answer is yes. Empire Online announced that it had appointed Andrew Burnett as a “consultant to lead its M&A drive�.

Burnett is considered a leading games, recreation and leisure analyst. Until recently, he was part of the team at Numis Securities, the investment house that underwrote Empire Online’s IPO. Burnett has founded Redux, a financing and M&A consultancy boutique. Empire Online is Burnett’s first client. In its press release, Empire Online said Burnett would “also play an active role in investor relations advice and support.�

Burnett worked as leisure analyst at Charterhouse, ABN AMRO, Merrill Lynch, and Numis. His most significant piece of research was Bet The World, a 200-page book on valuing and appraising online gaming companies. Published by Merrill Lynch in 2000, it is considered by many as the definitive work on the online gaming industry.

Empire Online CEO Noam Lanir said, “Following our successful IPO, we are rapidly rolling out our operations throughout Europe and will also consider making strategic acquisitions. We intend to play a leading role in the anticipated consolidation and we are looking to Andrew Burnett to spearhead this for us, working closely with our existing financial advisers, Numis.�

Burnett said, “The gaming sector is set for a period of tremendous growth and consolidation over the medium term. I look forward to being a part of the Empire Online team as they lead the market consolidation in the online gaming industry.�

Empire Online had $47 million in cash at the end of the first quarter, including $33 million raised in its IPO.

Empire Online’s share is continuing the climb begun ten days ago. It was up 1.8% in morning trading to ₤1.95. The current share price reflects a market cap of nearly $1 billion - $998 million to be precise. Investors in the company’s IPO in early June at ₤1.75 per share have made an 11% return on their investment.

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