Minority investors quick to reject proposed sale of Great Canadian Gaming to Apollo

Great Canadian Gaming stock ended the day at $38.90, up $9.99 or nearly 35 per cent

The Great Canadian Gaming Corp. logo is shown in a handout. The company says it has signed a deal to be bought by a U.S. private equity firm that values the casino operator at $3.3 billion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

The Great Canadian Gaming Corp. logo is shown in a handout. The company says it has signed a deal to be bought by a U.S. private equity firm that values the casino operator at $3.3 billion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

Great Canadian Gaming Corp.’s chief executive officer faced a barrage of questions Wednesday from some of its minority shareholders who oppose the casino operator’s acceptance of a $3.3 billion takeover announced the previous evening.

Apollo Global Management Inc. has agreed to pay $39 per share for the company — a price that’s about 35 per cent above Great Canadian’s recent value but well short of what some investment managers argue it is worth.

Great Canadian CEO Rod Baker, who has led the company for about a decade, said its independent directors had done a thorough job of analyzing Apollo’s offer but acknowledged they hadn’t approached other potential investors before unanimously recommending the deal.

“This is a very, very strong offer and reflects, we think, all of the potential of the business — factoring in what’s going to be a very difficult and uncertain period for some amount of time,” Baker said.

Great Canadian Gaming stock ended the day at $38.90, up $9.99 or nearly 35 per cent. It was the stock’s highest close since early March, a few days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 had become a pandemic.

The company runs 25 gaming, entertainment and hospitality facilities, primarily in Ontario and British Columbia, but has suspended most of its operations because of COVID-19-related public health restrictions.

Apollo said in its announcement that Great Canadian would remain headquartered in Toronto, led by a Canadian management team, but Baker said neither he nor his team has had any communications with the U.S. firm.

Earlier Wednesday, the company reported a $49-million net loss for the three months ended Sept. 30, of which $36.5 million or 66 cents per share are attributable to its common shareholders.

Revenue dropped 87 per cent from a year earlier to $43.1 million from $341.1 million and cash generated by Great Canadian’s operating activities shrank to $27.6 million from $99.5 million a year earlier.

Despite the impact of more than six months of reduced activity since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada early this year, Baker said Great Canadian can operate on a reduced level without Apollo but he recommends shareholders accept its offer.

He was criticized during the call by Bloombergsen Investment Partners, a Toronto-based investment firm that owns about 14 per cent of Great Canadian’s equity.

According to financial data firm Refinitiv, Bloombergsen is one of Great Canadian’s largest minority shareholders and Great Canadian is one of Bloombersen’s largest holdings in a portfolio worth about US$1.1 billion as of Aug. 31.

“This is a terrible and ridiculous deal,” said Sanjay Sen, president and co-founder of Bloombergsen.

“We will vote against this transaction. The equity value of the business has not been hurt, (it) isn’t burning much cash, we’ve turned the corner (on COVID) … (and) the U.S. regional casinos that are open are earning more money today than they were a year ago,” Sen said.

Baker said he recognized that Sen was upset but assured him the Apollo deal is in the best interest for shareholders and said Sen should understand that Great Canadian’s future growth may not be as strong as it has been in the past.

“This is not a sell-out on the cheap to some Americans,” Baker said.

“We don’t have to do this deal but this deal is being brought forward because it’s the absolute right thing for our shareholders. And, frankly, you and the others should take this.”

With no majority or controlling shareholder, Bloombergsen wouldn’t have enough votes to block the deal at a shareholder meeting to be held in December.

However, minority shareholder groups can sometimes combine forces to push for better terms or to block deals they oppose.

Representatives of two U.S.-based minority shareholders, Madison Avenue Partners and Breach Inlet Capital investors, said on the call that they would also vote against the Apollo deal.

Among other things, the investors said Great Canadian should have looked for alternatives to the Apollo offer, which was announced late Tuesday ahead of the company’s scheduled third-quarter financial report issued Wednesday.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

gambling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Island Health’s acting medical health officer for the central Island says schools are very safe, even after COVID-19 exposure at five schools in Nanaimo-Ladysmith this month. (File photo)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Qualicum superintendents ask Island Health about COVID-19 safety at schools

Central Island medical health officer answers questions parents have been asking

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have ruled out fouled play in the death of a woman in Chemainus. (Black Press file photo)
No foul play in death of woman in Chemainus

Police officers make determination after an investigation

Divers gear up at Kin Beach for venture to extract large industrial tires from the waters of Chemainus Bay. (Photo by Kathleen Fenner)
CFB Esquimalt’s Fleet Diving Unit members remove large tires submerged in Chemainus Bay for years

Environmental concerns and deadly hazard for crabs finally alleviated

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read