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Bridgepoint, Axa place €600m bet on Snai

The two firms are looking to carve out the gaming operations of Italian-listed leisure group Snai at the same time that Blackstone is reportedly vying to take control of Gala Coral.

UK-based Bridgepoint and Paris-based Axa Private Equity have offered to carve out the gaming business of listed Italian group Snai for approximately €600 million, a source close to the situation has confirmed.

Snai, which has been labouring under a €275 million debt burden, told the Milan stock exchange yesterday that an offer had been received from the private equity firms to “reorganise operations in games and gambling” conducted by the company.

If the offer is successful, the two firms would own Snai’s gaming business – comprising sports and horse race betting – leaving the company’s real estate and race course assets in its current owner’s hands. Bridgepoint would own 75 percent of the new group, with Axa owning the remainder.

Italy has the second largest gaming market in Europe behind the UK, said one source familiar with the situation, who added that if the deal completed at the current price the firm’s would be buying into a “very, very cash generative” business at “a very favourable entry valuation”.

Snai’s board of directors described the offer as “worthy of further examination”. The source said the board would be discussing the offer next week.

Axa and Bridgepoint both declined to comment.

The bid follows news that elsewhere in the gaming industry, Gala Coral, a gaming giant currently owned by Permira, Candover and Cinven, is being targeted by The Blackstone Group.

Gala Coral is in the process of having its £2.6 billion (€2.9 billion; $4.3 billion) debt load restructured and had agreed terms with its incumbent sponsors to swap a portion of mezzanine debt – held among others by Park Square and Intermediate Capital – for equity under a three-year turnaround plan, according to a report in UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph

An 11th-hour deal with Blackstone could see the New York-based firm inject between £250 million and £300 million into the business in return for a majority stake, said the report.

Blackstone was not available for comment.