David Baazov Cashes Out: Former CEO Sells $200 Million Amaya Stock

Posted on April 5, 2017 - Last Updated on March 1, 2019

[toc]David Baazov, the former chairman and CEO of Amaya, the Canadian gaming company which owns online poker site PokerStars, reduced his stake in the company by nearly 80 percent.

Baazov sold off over CA$200 million in Amaya stock this past week. Earlier in March, Baazov sold over CA$130 million in stock. The amount represents 7 million shares at CA$19 per share.

This reduces Baazov’s stake in the company to 3.8 percent, down from a high of 17.2 percent.

Baazov says that the sell-off is for investment purposes. He has been listed as the chairman of a new company, Ahaka Capital, since the start of the year.

Amaya and Baazov: a chequered history

Baazov is the founder of Amaya, Inc. was the chairman and CEO of the company that owns PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site.

Since Amaya’s acquisition of the Rational Group, PokerStars’ parent company, Baazov has rarely been out of the online gaming and financial trading headlines.

A record-breaking $4.9 billion takeover

Baazov founded Amaya in Montreal, Quebec, and for many years, the company was a relatively minor player in the world of online casinos.

However, in June 2014 Amaya announced it bought the Rational Group, making Amaya the world’s largest publicly listed online gaming company.

Insider trading charges

Less than a year after the acquisition of Rational, Canadian security regulators charged Baazov with multiple counts of insider trading and security fraud. Baazov took an indefinite leave of absence after this, then resigned in August.

Stepping down – then stepping back?

After Baazov’s resignation, he almost immediately announced plans to buy Amaya. He wanted to make it private company with a group of private investors. One of said investors denied involvement in the plan.

Amaya’s Board of Directors rejected the bid. Last month, Amaya announced it is refinancing. One of the conditions of this was that the company not be sold to Baazov directly or indirectly.

About Amaya

Amaya’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of the world online gaming has been called “an audacious coup” after Baazov’s shocking takeover of Rational Group.

The $4.9 billion takeover was dependent on multi-billion-dollar loans from creditors. Amaya’s management of PokerStars involved several cost-cutting measures that drew near unanimous criticism from poker players.

Amaya’s tumultuous relationship with online poker players mirrors its stock prices. Trading at less than CA$10 per share before the takeover, stock rapidly rose to nearly CA$40.

Since the takeover, Amaya stock fluctuated between CA$35 and CA$20. At the time of writing, it is worth CA$22.57.

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Matt Perry

A veteran of the online gambling industry, Matt Perry has worn a number of hats since he first began working in online poker and iGaming in 2007. He currently writes for a variety of publications focused on legal online gambling, and in the past has served as an editor, copywriter, content manager and reporter.

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