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Monday, October 10, 2005

Online poker firm

THE world’s largest internet betting group, Sportingbet, is in talks to acquire Paradisepoker, an online poker firm, for more than £170m.

The acquisition would almost double the size of Sportingbet, whose shares are traded on the Alternative Investment Market. It has a market value of £229m.

The news comes as it emerged that Richard Segal, the former boss of Odeon Cinemas, has joined the owner of the world’s biggest online poker business Partypoker.com as chief executive. His appointment to the board of iGlobalmedia will fuel speculation that the firm could be grooming itself for a flotation.

Sportingbet announced last week that it was in “advanced discussions” about a “potential substantial acquisition of an online poker business”.

It did not name the company it is buying, but The Sunday Times has learnt that the target is Tropical Paradise, which operates the Paradisepoker website from Costa Rica. The site has been on a publicity drive in Britain this year and launched a series of advertisements featuring the model Caprice.