Gaming regulators OK Bally Technologies’ buyout of SHFL entertainment

Nevada gaming regulators took a little more than an hour to approve Bally Technologies’ $1.3 billion buyout of gaming equipment rival SHFL entertainment Thursday during a special hearing.

The transaction, in which Bally is paying SHFL shareholders $23.25 per share, is expected to create a manufacturer and technology company with seven different divisions and annual revenues of more than $1.3 billion.

Stockholders approved the transaction Wednesday.

Bally Technologies Chief Executive Officer Ramesh Srinivasan said the buyout was 11 times SHFL’s cash flow over the past 12 months.

“It’s a complementary merger,” Srinivasan said. “This will be a very profitable entity.”

The transaction has cleared federal antitrust issues but is still pending several state regulatory approvals.

The deal, which was announced in July, is expected to close by the end of the year.

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said the merger “makes sense” and was beneficial to both companies.

The merger combines the gaming industry’s second-largest slot machine provider in Bally Technologies, with SHFL, the largest provider of unique table games, and table game management systems and equipment. SHFL also has a large slot machine division in Australia, a market that Bally hopes to expand.

Bally executives told gaming regulators the trans­action will result in more than $30 million in annual cost savings.

The Gaming Control Board recommended approval, followed immediately by the Nevada Gaming Commission. The five-person gaming commission listened from the audience during the control board investigative hearing. The commissioners didn’t have any questions about the deal.

Gaming Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard said all the questions had been addressed and the transaction had been sufficiently vetted.

“I don’t think the order of registrations has changed in the last five minutes,” Bernhard joked about the document that spells out the deal.

Bally has 1,300 employees in Nevada and 3,400 workers worldwide. SHFL employs 350 people in Nevada and 900 workers globally.

Kevin Verner, a former Bally board member who is heading the integration efforts between the two companies, said there would be changes at the executive level between the two companies.

Srinivasan commended Bally Chairman Richard Haddrill and SHFL CEO Gavin Isaacs for growing the two companies.

“We will take care of these two great companies,” Srinivasan said.

Haddrill, who briefly addressed the control board, said the merger was good for the state of Nevada.

“It would also create the most diversified gaming company in the industry,” Haddrill said.

Isaacs, who was the former chief operating officer of Bally before joining SHFL, is expected to leave the company once the merger is completed.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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