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Above: Photo of Mark and Isai Scheinberg in 2013.
Current CEO and co-founder of PokerStars Mark Scheinberg announced the news of the company’s sale to Amaya Gaming in a bittersweet email to PokerStars employees on Friday, thanking the staff for all of their past efforts and offering an optimistic view of the company’s future in the hands of Amaya Gaming.
The full text of the email follows.
Today we announced a transaction for the sale of Rational Group to Amaya Gaming Group, a Canadian publicly traded company. This will be the largest deal of its kind in the history of our industry, and follows more than six months of negotiations between the parties.
Due to regulatory requirements, I could not inform you until a joint press release was issued, which has just happened and which you can read here.
We can all take pride in having built the world leader in online poker, reflecting all the hard work and commitment from the organization over the last 14 years. Our success and leadership in the industry have been built on incredible talent, integrity, customer focus, a strong work ethic and pride in what we do. This success and these values have been driven by each of you and the contributions you have made.
This acquisition represents a major vote of confidence in the quality of Rational Group and marks the next phase in the growth story of the Company. It recognizes our achievements to date, and provides great opportunities for future expansion as the company continues to evolve. We have a phenomenal platform from which we can build and grow the business even further, and I’m confident that it will continue to go from strength to strength.
Amaya Gaming and its Chief Executive David Baazov have a strong vision for the group’s future. Working together with Rational’s executive leadership team I am confident they will execute that vision, which is very much aligned with the course we have been on. Our culture is very strong and Amaya understands that it is our people, our values and our expertise that have made us so successful.
Amaya is a business-to-business company, with its primary business in North America, where it holds numerous State and Provincial licenses in the U.S. and Canada. Amaya’s core business is complementary to ours, which means that there is very little overlap in our products and services. I therefore expect minimal impact on our operations or your day-to-day work.
The sale is subject to regulatory approvals, which we expect to receive in the coming weeks. This means the transaction is expected to be completed no later than September 30, 2014. I will remain Chief Executive throughout this period and will continue to be active in the business, working with David Baazov to ensure a smooth transition. Upon the closing of the sale, I will step down from my role as Chairman and CEO. At the same time Isai will also relinquish all of his remaining responsibilities and together we will both depart the company. Our Company Director and fellow founder, Pinhas Shapira, will also step down from his role from that date.
The executive leadership team Michael, Paul, Guy and Rafi will remain in their current roles, and all other reporting lines will remain unchanged. I have great confidence in our executive and broader management team, and their ability to drive the company forward.
PokerStars headquarters will remain in the Isle of Man and we (and Amaya) are committed to maintaining our strong and growing presence here. We have already expressed this to IOM Chief Minister Allan Bell with a formal letter, which you can view here.
I am sure that you will have questions about the implications of today’s announcement and we will make as much information available to you as we can. In the meantime it is important that we all remain focused on the business and our day-to-day operations with minimal distractions.
I would not wish to sign off a message such as this without expressing, on a more personal note, the very great privilege that it has been for Isai and I to lead this company and work with all of you over the course of these many years. It is with mixed emotions that I make this announcement. The transaction represents a financial achievement for the shareholders including myself, but I am also personally very sad to be leaving as it’s very difficult for me to imagine myself outside this company. I know I also speak for Isai when I say that this experience has shaped our lives and created many friends and memories that we will always treasure. I wish you all the very best of personal success. I know your futures will be very bright.
I’ll ensure that you are kept posted on developments in the coming weeks.