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Amaya moves to freeze out founder

Written by Ben Blaschke

iGaming operator Amaya, owner of the world’s biggest online poker site PokerStars, is taking no chances on its controversial founder and former CEO David Baazov, who has basically been blacklisted from any future takeover bids in the company’s latest refinancing deal.

Amaya announced over the weekend that it had successfully repriced and retranched its US dollar and Euro denominated first lien term loans and amended the applicable credit agreement – saving approximately US$15.4 million of interest expense annually.

However as part of the deal, Baazov – who remains Amaya’s single largest shareholder with a 19 percent interest – has been singled out following a number of unsuccessful bids to take the company private over the past 12 months. Baazov stepped down as CEO in 2015 after he was charged with multiple counts of insider trading by Canadian authorities relating to Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars.

The company’s refinancing announcement stated, “At the request of certain lenders, the amendment also modifies the change of control provision to remove the ability of a certain current shareholder to directly or indirectly acquire control of Amaya without triggering an event of default and potential acceleration of the repayment of the debt under the credit agreement for the first lien term loans.”

Baazov is due to face trial on those insider trading charges in November.