BNP Paribas’ involvement as a shareholder in France Pari is great news for the group and its future prospects. That doesn't mean the group will lose focus on the tasks at hand, namely launches in Spain and potentially Buenos Aires, chief executive Hervé Schlosser tells iGamingBusiness.com.
By all accounts, the arrival of BNP Paribas as a minority shareholder in France Pari/Sportnco’s corporate structure is a good move for the Toulouse-based supplier of betting solutions.
The financial group’s investment division is taking out a minority stake in France Pari that will see it invest around €2m in the group, and with ARKEA (part of Crédit Mutuel group) and public investment bank BPI France, provide it with €3.4m of credit facilities.
The agreement means France Pari/Sportnco will be able to grow its business, increase its headcount from around 70 to 100m, and benefit from the presence of strong institutional investors on its strategic committee, thus consolidating its position and giving it a strong base from which to develop its products.
“BNP Paribas’s participation is based on a long-term vision,” France Pari’s CEO and founder Hervé Schlosser says. “The group invests its own funds in these projects and sets out a long-term path for growth without the short-term pressures on returns that are more common in private equity-backed operations.”
It’s also a sign of the good work, tech and commercial, France Pari has accomplished since 2010 and the ‘controlled opening’ of the French igaming market.
However, Schlosser also admits that the start of its activities was not easy – high taxes and regulatory burdens and an ultra-competitive market putting paid to many, often larger and better-known, suppliers’ and operators’ hopes within a couple of years of launch.
Schlosser agrees when this version of events is put to him, but points out that what enabled his company to carve out a position for itself was its flexibility and adapting quickly to the B2B market.
“In practice, this meant tight risk management and trading in partnership with our operators,” he explains. “This enabled us to generate the margins our clients needed and we combined it with a strong focus on tech development.”
This combination of attention to detail and agility has seen the group grow its client base to include, among others, NetBet, ZEBet, Genybet and PMU (for fantasy sports) in France and Casino Gran Madrid, MGA and Sisal in Spain. This, in effect, means France Pari/Sportnco runs the two largest B2B betting networks in those countries.
So what will France Pari/Sportnco do with these new funds and shareholders?
“They will enable us to keep developing our technology for our existing clients and prospects. We want to constantly improve our platform, that is what will enable us to grow further,” says Schlosser.
Surely his company will be looking at more growth, with new client sign ups and potential acquisitions?
“Yes, eventually,” he says, “but that is always part of our ongoing projects. For example, Sisal will be going live in Spain in Q3 and we are partnering with them to apply for a Buenos Aires Province licence.
“It’s also no secret that we are in talks with groups in other Latam countries and operators in the US. For the time being we will focus on improving our platform and our tech and continuing our B2B growth.”
If Schlosser’s comments sound somewhat underwhelming, they are not meant to be. What he is saying is that he wants to focus on the tasks at hand before turning his attentions to commercial developments or M&A opportunities.
So for the time being the focus is on developing the company’s existing business and benefit from the involvement of the new institutions and shareholders, but also expect announcements on commercial and M&A activities at a later point as the group works on those topics in the background.
As Schlosser concludes: “The agreement validates the expertise and know-how France Pari has developed since 2010.
“We will carry on with this strategy which has served us well so far and of course keep all options open as new opportunities will doubtless arise.”