TALLINN - Olympic Casino, the Baltics' largest gaming company, has signed a deal to buy out Baltic Gaming, the second largest gaming chain in Latvia, the Aripaev business daily reported. The size of the deal was not revealed, but it marks one of the largest direct investments by an Estonian company in Latvia, Olympic Casino executives said. Aripaev estimates the deal to be worth 200 's 250 million kroons (13 's 16 million euros).
The transaction will boost the market share of Olympic Casino on Latvia's fragmented gaming market to 15 's 16 percent, making it the second biggest operator after Alfor. Alfor possesses about one-fifth of the market.
"We wish to emerge as the market leader over the next few years," said Armin Karu, CEO and shareholder of Olympic Casino.
Both Estonian and foreign banks have provided the funds needed to buy Baltic Gaming, Karu said. He declined to say whether Olympic Casino was about to buy any more competitors or what country it was planning to expand to next.
"All of Europe's interesting," Karu said. "We wish to lay our egg first and cackle only then," he said.
Baltic Gaming owns 32 slot machine halls under the Bumerangs brand in Latvia, as well as the Voodoo casino, one of the most popular in Riga.
"All the casinos are profitable and will continue operating in the future," Karu commented.
Baltic Gaming has posted annual sales of 200 million kroons, and it employs nearly 600 people.
"In the event of major consolidations, layoffs are often talked about 's let me assure you that Baltic Gaming has been successful in its operations, and we are not planning any major personnel changes in the near future," Karu said. He added that, since the company intends to expand further in Latvia, it had rather set its sights on hiring more personnel in the near term.