The Blackstone Group shows ambitions toward the exploding social casino market with strategic acquisition of Ukrainian game developer
American private equity firm The Blackstone Group LP has developed further interest in the global gaming industry, this time focusing its attention on the lucrative social casino sector.
Ukrainian news outlet the Kyiv Post reported citing a statement by Blackstone published earlier this week that the acquisition will be carried out through a special purpose vehicle set up to complete the transaction. Tribe Cyprus Bidco Ltd will buy the assets of Murka Ltd and Murka Entertainment Ltd. on behalf of Blackstone. The US firm is awaiting approval from the Commission for Protection of Competition of the Republic of Cyprus to move forward with finalizing the transaction.
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The purchase price has remained undisclosed.
Since established in 2011, Murka has been developing casino-themed social games. The company currently employs more than 100 people at its offices in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Dnipro, and Lviv. According to the company’s website, its games are played by more than 5 million players monthly.
Murka’s titles include Vegas Slots, Royal Fortune Slots, Scatter Slots, and Slots Journey 1 and 2, among others.
A recent report by AppAnnie showed that Murka was one of the fastest growing companies in the CIS region.
Blackstone’s Social Gaming Interest
Blackstone’s acquisition of Murka will enable the US alternative asset manager to extend its foothold into the lucrative global social casino market. Social casinos were estimated to be a $3.8 billion sector in 2016. The market is expected to reach $4.6 billion by the end of the decade.
Generally speaking, social casino games imitate the experience offered by real-money online casinos. Social casino games are free-to-play, meaning players are not required to wager actual money to play. Games of this type generate revenue through in-app purchases of virtual chips and other products that can enhance player experience, or by placing advertisements within the app.
It should also be noted that The Blackstone Group is no stranger to the gambling industry. Last spring, the private equity firm bought Spanish gambling giant Cirsa. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources had claimed that the Barcelona-based group could snatch between €2 billion and €2.5 billion from its buyers.
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In May 2014, the Blackstone Group acquired The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury Strip hotel and casino resort. The company paid $1.73 billion to purchase the property from its former owner, Deutsche Bank. Reports emerged late last year that Florida-based gaming and hospitality company Hard Rock International had entered due diligence to buy the Cosmopolitan.
Blackstone denied those reports, saying that there were no discussions regarding the sale of the resort at the time.
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