For quite awhile now rumors have been swirling that a group of European investors were eyeing the acquisition of Full Tilt Poker. That gave previous Full Tilt players hope that eventually they would get their funds which were not returned after Black Friday. Hope had been fading however as any news about a possible takeover grew dim, but a recent announcement by Full Tilt Poker sounds hopeful.
In an exclusive press release to PokerNews on Monday, August 22, Full Tilt Poker appears to be actively seeking other possible investors to take over the beleaguered company. Explaining their current position, the press release said:
On August 16, Irish based Pocket Kings Ltd., brand executor for the Full Tilt Poker moniker, concluded the exclusivity period of negotiations with their current potential investor.
While Pocket Kings Ltd. plans to continue discussions with its current investor, the company has now begun negotiations with additional potential investors to conclude the sale/partnership of the Full Tilt Poker brand and its assets.
Full Tilt Poker apologizes for its lack of communication with its customers over the last month and a half, but it has been grappling with unexpected and complex legal and financial issues arising from Black Friday and its aftermath. In addition, the company has had to be circumspect about disclosing the progress of negotiations with potential investors because there is often a requirement of strict confidentiality.
To the extent that it can do so without jeopardizing future opportunities, Full Tilt Poker will strive to have better communication with its customers going forward. Full Tilt Poker's number one priority remains the same: to secure an infusion of capital to repay all of its worldwide customers.
An attorney representing the company told eGaming Review that any takeover of Full Tilt Poker (FTP) would likely require a change of management to go along with new ownership. A number of potential unknown bidders are in discussion with FTP who is hoping to secure investors before their hearing with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) resumes on September 15, 2011. According to Jeff Ifrah, one of the attorneys from different firms called upon to represent FTP, even though the exclusivity agreement is nearing the end, the original potential investor is still the front-runner to acquire the company.
That original potential investor has been the only entity so far to strike up discussions with the United States Department of Justice. Although others have expressed an interest in the company, talks have stalled as the date for the resumption of FTP’s adjourned AGCC hearing nears.
“Everyone has their eye on that date, nobody wants to come to September 15th and not have a deal which is either finalized or close to finalization to the point that it can be shared with Alderney and result in the extension of that date,” Ifrah said.
Regarding the future of FTP if they in fact do find an investor, Ifrah said “The regulator has made its concern about prior management known, and obviously I think that any investor would want to adhere to those concerns and eliminate those concerns.” He also added, “I’m not directly involved in any of those discussions but I assume if everything goes to plan then the announcement will bring not just a new owner and new investor but also an entirely new management team, and I assume that will all be well-coordinated and closely coordinated with the regulators.”
Ifrah also stated that repaying players remains the primary target, “I assume there’s going to be a transition period [after any investment] and we hope that it’s not going to take that long to turn the lights back on and begin facilitating player withdrawals and obviously continue playing.”
In conclusion, Ifrah said, “We are disappointed the acquisition of FTP has been delayed again. A key term of the acquisition is the repayment of players and I do think the acquisition when finalized will moot this law suit. However, until then, there are court deadlines that need to be followed and we will of course adhere to such deadlines while protecting our clients' interests.”
The law firm at which Ifrah is a partner, Ifrah Law LLC, is also representing eight ‘Team Full Tilt’ poker players in the class action lawsuit filed in late June against FTP. It was Ifrah’s firm that was behind last Friday’s motion for dismissal filed on behalf of the eight players and five corporate entities. Poker pro John Juanda is also named in the suit but is represented by a different firm which has filed a separate motion to dismiss.