Eye on Europe - March 2, 2006

2 March 2006

What's in a Name? -- European bookmaker Gamebookers.com has made an offer to German football institute Bayern Munich to guarantee the difference in wages between the money allegedly offered by Chelsea and Bayern Munich's bid to keep Michael Ballack at Bayern. Ballack is also the captain of the national team, which is highly criticized due to the streak of losses in preparation for the World Cup Soccer in Germany. . . . The German National Football League (DFL), the Bundesliga, is looking for a name sponsor. BetandWin, the Austrian and Gibraltar Internet operator is active in Germany and has been negotiating with the DFL, which is hoping to raise 50 million euro. Citibank and Deutsche Telekom are also in the race. In England, UK Barclays is the name sponsor of the Premier League--a three-year deal worth around 85 millions euro.

More Soccer -- The Ethics and Sportsmanship Commission of FIFA, the World Football Association, will revise its ethic code to regulate the sports betting market. The code will be applied to players, agents, associations and clubs. The commission will also examine the probable conflict of interests that involves CONCACAF President Jack A. Warner for having shares in the agency Simpaul Travel Service, which sells tickets for FIFA Word Cup. Warner, a real estate developer and president of CONCACAF since 1990, is also the chief d'équipe of Trinidad and Tobago, which qualified for the World Cup in Germany.

B&W -- BetandWin.com Interactive Entertainment AG has placed 2,830,000 shares by means of an accelerated book-building process. The offer price was set at euro 95 euro per share, resulting in gross issue proceeds of 268,850,000 euro. The shares were placed pursuant to a public offering in Austria and via a private placement, among other things, in reliance on Regulation S under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended, to institutional investors in both Austria and certain jurisdictions outside Austria. Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein acted as sole global coordinator and sole bookrunner on the transaction.

Good Causes -- Italian bank Mediobanca has reportedly acquired a 2.062 percent stake in Italian lottery operator Lottomatica. In the meantime, Lottomatica Chairman and Managing Director Rosario Bifulco informed the company of his decision to exercise 1,750,000 options under the 2003-2005 stock-option plan upon approval by the board of directors of the consolidated financial accounts for the year ended Dec. 31, 2005. The exercise price of the options was 14.63 euro for each share. The average selling price of the shares was set at 32.86 euro. Bifulco stated that he had decided to step down as chairman and managing director of Lottomatica effective from the date of closing of the acquisition of Gtech, as recently announced to the company's board of directors and to the market.

Services Directive -- Led by the European Betting Association and the Remote Gambling Association, promoters of Internet gambling could not make a fist to change the voting on the Service Directive. It is inconceivable why this is the case. The EBA and RGA, for instance, failed to make a pact with the European Information & Communications Technology Industry Association, even though organizations have common goals concerning the country of origin. Together they would have been stronger, but they missed their chance.

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.