Damian Aspinall, the colourful son of the late zoo owner, John Aspinall, is to float his online gaming business on the alternative investment market through a reverse takeover of an existing cash shell.
Mr Aspinall’s Gaming Ventures International (GVI) will be bought by Gaming Investments, a former property company, for an initial consideration of 224 million shares, issued at 15p. The new company, to be renamed Aspinalls Online, will have an initial valuation of £45m. Mr Aspinall is also proposing to raise £5m before expenses to provide the enlarged group with working capital.
Mr Aspinall said GVI, of which he is executive chairman, was the first profitable internet business to float on the Stock Exchange. It registered profits of £3.5m last year. Mr Aspinall said: “Being a public company will give us greater access to capital and greater credibility.”
After its expected admission to AIM on 11 June, the new Aspinalls Online will develop a series of themed casinos, targeted at different geographic markets. It will also launch a betting section, offering wagers on sporting events and financial spreads, as well as a VIP club for invited high-rollers and related content, including a tipster service.
Mr Aspinall admitted that his family name would be an advantage in building the business. “The key here is, there are a lot of online casinos, but very few of them are reputable,” he said. “If you go and play at ‘Piratesofthesea.com’, you don’t know if they will steal your credit card or whether you will get your money.” He said the reputation of the Aspinall family, which has operated bricks and mortar casinos for 40 years, would lend a sense of trust with online customers.
Once the reverse takeover of GVI is complete, 62 per cent of the new company will be owned by the Aspinall family, of which he will have a 35 per cent stake. The new placing will account for 12.5 per cent of the share capital, with the rest controlled by shareholders of GI and GVI.