Online Poker Pioneer Increases Shareholdings In Spite Of Slump

08 January 2007

TIMES ONLINE

Empire Online has had a torrid time along with the rest of the online-gaming sector following the passing of legislation in America that has in effect banned internet gambling.

Last year’s reversal triggered the departure of non-executive chairman Leonard Steinberg, and halted the group’s US business, which it said will have a “material” impact on future earnings.

Its shares have fallen 35 per cent since the US decision and 75 per cent on Empire’s flotation price 19 months ago. Last week, it baled out of the sector by selling its gaming assets to Party Gaming for 83.3m ordinary shares, worth $37.96m (£20m).

The group intends to become an investment company after the disposal is completed, subject to shareholder approval. Chief executive Noam Lanir, through his company Groverton Management, has shown his confidence in the move by snapping up 5.5m shares for £2.34m. The transaction
increases Lanir’s stake to 101.1m, or 34.5 per cent, of the issued share capital.

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