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M&A activity leads to revenue and profit growth at Better Collective

| By Robert Fletcher
Affiliate Better Collective has said that merger and acquisition activity during its 2020 financial year helped drive year-on-year growth in both revenue and profit.
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Overall revenue for the 12 months to 31 December 2020 amounted to €91.2m (£78.3m/$110.9m), up 35.3% from €67.4m in the previous year.

Revenue share affiliation was by far the main source of income for the affiliate in 2020, as revenue from these operations increased by 20.3% year-on-year to €53.7m.

Cost-per-acquisition revenue more than doubled from €10.9m to €22.3m, while subscription revenue climbed 43.6% to €5.6m and other affiliate revenue hiked 41.2% to €9.6m.

As of the fourth quarter of 2020, following its acquisition of the Atemi Group in October, Better Collective now operates two different business models in terms of customer acquisition, with each segment having different earnings profiles.

The publishing segment covers organic traffic in its existing business but excludes pay-per-click (PPC). The paid media segement, meanwhile, the PPC-focused Atemi Group’s activity, plus existing PPC at Better Collective.

Setting out the revenue split between these two segments, publishing revenue for the full year was €74.2m, up 9.9% on the previous year, while paid media revenue rocketed by 529.6% to €17.0m, due to the acquisition of Atemi.

Aside from Atemi, Better Collective also acquired esports portal HLTV.org back in February 2020, in a deal worth €34.5m.

“M&A continues to shape our business and performance, striving to become the leading sports betting aggregator in the world,” Better Collective chief executive Jesper Søgaard said.

“Atemi Group is one of the world’s largest companies specialised within lead generation for igaming through paid media (PPC) and social media advertising.

“Integrating the [Atemi] has brought Better Collective in the absolute leading position when it comes to premium customer acquisition for the online operators.”

Looking at spending, full-year costs excluding special items and amortisations was up 36.3% to €54.8m, due to the addition of Atemi Group and HLTV.org to the business.

However, such was the impact of revenue growth that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and special items increased 30.3% to €36.6m.

Operating profit was also up 43.9% to €30.5m, while after accounting for both financial income and expenses, profit before tax was €28.7m, up 51.1% year-on-year.

Better Collective paid €6.8m in tax in 2020, leaving it with a profit of €21.9m for the year, up 57.6% from €13.9m in 2019.

“Looking back at 2020, I am very satisfied with the performance and I firmly believe we have a much stronger company than we had a year ago,” Søgaard said.

Better Collective also published its results for the fourth quarter, during which revenue reached €36.7m, up 87.2% from Q4 of 2019.

Revenue share accounted for €17.6m of total revenue in the quarter, up 50.4%, while cost-per-acquisition revenue rocketed 308.8% to €13.9m. Subscription revenue slipped 4.8% to €2.0m, but other affiliate revenue was up 39.1% to €3.2m.

In terms of the new business split, publishing revenue amounted to €22.8m, up 23.2%, while paid media revenue jumped 1,163.6% to €13.9m on the back of the Atemi acquisition.

Quarterly cost excluding special items and amortisation amounted to €23.0m, almost double the €12.5m spend last year, but revenue growth meant EBITDA before special items was 93.0% higher at €13.7m.

Operating profit climbed 116.4% to €11.9m, and after including financial costs, profit before tax was €11.0m, double the €5.5m posted in Q4 of 2019.

Income tax payments amounted to €2.6m, meaning Better Collective ended Q4 with €8.5m in profit after tax, an increase of 157.6% on the previous year.

“Better Collective will continue the strategy to become the leading sports betting media group,” Søgaard said. “We will continue our efforts in leading an industry consolidation through M&A-activities and our current pipeline is stronger than ever.

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