WPT Enterprises Folds' Em
We may never know if poker legend Doyle Brunson's $700 million bid for WPT Enterprises (WPTE) was a bluff. But we do know the company is being sold for far, far less than that amount.
WPT Enterprises, otherwise known as World Poker Tour, announced Tuesday its plans to sell its assets to British online-gaming group PartyGaming for $12.3 million. PartyGaming will also pay WPTE an ongoing 5% participation in gaming and other revenue generated by the assets, which include WPTE's television library, intellectual property rights, brand names and trade names. WPTE closed at $1.01 a share on Tuesday.
The deal trumps a previously announced bid of $9.075 million from private investment consortium Gamynia. However, it's still well below the $29.50-a-share offer made by Brunson in July 2005. Los Angeles-based WPT Enterprises was founded in March 2002 and went public at the height of the poker craze in August 2004 at $8 a share -- the same rage that swept up casino stocks and gaming stocks like International Game Technology (IGT), WMS Industries (WMS) and Shuffle Master (SHFL).Yep, WPTE stayed at the table too long and effectively went bust. Steve Lipscomb, president and chief executive officer of WPTE, preferred not to look back, saying in a statement that PartyGaming's offer is "financially superior and we look forward to working with one of the pioneers and leaders in the poker and online gaming markets." Still, it's hard not to think back to Brunson's all-in bet on the company and the pot that could have been. WPT's stock jumped more than 50% in one day, prompting an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Brunson, a two-time World Series of Poker champion, invoked his Fifth Amendment right when the SEC came calling. In poker parlance, that means he played his cards close to the vest. The WPTE just played its hand badly. Dumb-o-meter score: 70 -- "In stocks or poker you gotta know when to walk away and definitely when to take the money and run."