After the recent acquisition of NetEnt by Evolution Gaming and the expected though unfortunate events that followed, SiGMA sat down with Evolution Gaming CEO Martin Carlesund to talk about the current state of things
1. Evolution Gaming – The world leader in live dealer gaming, acquires NetEnt – a digital entertainment gaming provider, which is valued at around €2billion. A brave move in a challenging year. What made 2020 the right time to make this move?
2020 has for sure turned out to be a very different year than anyone could have expected at its start. Like most companies, the pandemic has brought challenges for us, but overall, and thanks to the hard work from our fantastic team members, this has been a good year. In terms of the timing of the acquisition, a deal of this size obviously requires multiple factors to be in favour, and this was the case this summer when we decided to announce our intention to acquire NetEnt AB.
2. What is the goal? What is the future of Evolution Gaming looking like?
Our vision is to be the world-leader in online gaming. The addition of the NetEnt and Red Tiger brands and offers will pushes us a big leap forward toward this goal.
3. What are the key benefits for operators?
Overall, operators will benefit from the brand specific expertise that they have today, but now with a larger backend and service structure. With a new joint structure for our Commercial units led out of Malta, operators also should look forward to more exciting games being presented in the coming year.
4. This is not the only significant acquisition taking place in the past week that we have reported on, is this a new trend in the industry?
We can only answer for Evolution. For us this was the right time to make this move.
5. Obviously the acquisition headline was dominated by pre-Christmas redundancies particularly in light of the news expanding its three months ago that NetEnt was expanding the Qormi studio, with new blackjack tables, saying it was down to heightened demand. Can you give some hope to those who find themselves in this position at a particularly emotive time?
The NetEnt Live product was discontinued due to lack of profitability, despite several years of trial. It is a competitive industry and the business rationale behind the decision is clear. However, that does not mean that by any means it is an easy decision as it puts all roles connected to the product line at risk of redundancy. It has been a week of difficult discussions and we have spent several days in Qormi meeting with employees and answering their questions. We are now following the steps in the formal processes for these types of situations in Malta. We will of course continue to do what we can to move the process along as fast as possible to provide more clarity. We will continue to be available for questions for as long as it is needed. I also want to underline that this of course has nothing to do with the work from the individuals working on the NetEnt Live products.
Following the UK’s December 2020 release of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, SiGMA Group will move its February event to April. SiGMA Europe, which will be based in Malta, will now run from 13-15 April, 2021.