Exclusive: Online bookmaker Betway parent nears $5.1 billion deal to go public - sources

Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v West Ham United - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - April 17, 2021 General view of the match ball held by West Ham United's Lukasz Fabianski during the match Pool via REUTERS/Owen Humphreys

(Reuters) - Super Group, the parent company of online bookmaker Betway, is nearing a deal to go public through a merger with blank-check acquisition firm Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp at a valuation of about $5.1 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

The deal comes as Betway, which has its roots in Europe, expands in the United States. Betway has agreed to acquire Digital Gaming Corp, tapping the online sports betting and gaming market in 10 U.S. states, according to the sources.

Shareholders accounting for more than two-thirds of Super Group's equity will maintain their stakes under the deal, the sources said. Sports Entertainment's executive chairman, Eric Grubman, a former National Football League (NFL) executive, will become chairman of Super Group, and Sports Entertainment CEO John Collins, a former National Hockey League chief operating officer, will join Super Group's board, the sources added.

The sources requested anonymity because the deal negotiations are confidential.

SPACs, such as Sports Entertainment, are shell companies that raise funds in an initial public offering with the aim of merging with a private company, which becomes public as result, providing an alternative to traditional IPOs.

SPAC dealmaking tailed off in recent weeks following a record start to 2021 after U.S. regulators changed the accounting requirements for them.

Betway's platform enables betting on popular sporting events around the world, including Britain's Premier League football tournament and the cricket tournament Indian Premier League. It has partnerships with U.S. basketball teams such as the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers, and English football teams such as West Ham United.

Betway earlier this year entered the U.S. betting market, which has been growing rapidly since a ban on sports betting was lifted in 2018.

Super Group also owns Spin, a multi-brand online casino offering. It counts the likes of former cricketer Kevin Pietersen and former jockey Katie Walsh among its ambassadors.

Sports Entertainment Acquisition completed its IPO in New York in October, raising $400 million. It is backed by Timothy Goodell, general counsel of U.S. oil producer Hess Corp and brother of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and an affiliate of investment bank PJT Partners Inc.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York and Anirban Sen in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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