Amaya Gaming, PokerStars' parent company, has announced its plan to rebrand to "The Stars Group Inc, due to a very successful first quarter of 2017. It has also announced their intention to relocate to Toronto from Montreal. Both of these decisions shall be subject to shareholders' approval next month.
These decisions have come to light as the group declared revenues in the first quarter of 2017, $317.32 million, which is a solid 10% increase on the same quarter last year.
The company will relocate its head office after it hires a replacement for chief financial officer who has recently announced his retirement.
Chief Executive Rafi Ashkenazi, who replaced founder and CEO David Baazov last year, has been building up Amaya's management team, reducing its exposure to online professional poker players and playing down their debt.
He said on Friday at a conference call, "As we undergo this transformation, we look to embrace the future of our business while also recognizing the incredible consumer goodwill and loyalty associated with our primary brand."
Poker constitutes 69% of Amaya revenues in the first quarter of this year, as compared to 75% last year. Online sports betting and casino games rose to 27% from 21% in the first quarter of 2016.
Ashkenazi has just hired a William Hill executive to take care of acquisitions and mergers, and he is also in the final phases of hiring a successor to CFO Daniel Sebag who announced his retirement in January. His replacement shall most likely be a resident of Toronto.
By changing the name that Baazov has given to the company and moving to Toronto, it would seem that the negative traces of his management have been tossed aside. Even if he sold 7 million shares for $133 million this year, Baazov still possesses 12% of the company.
Since Baazov founded it in 2004, Montreal has always been Amaya's main headquarters. Ten years after purchasing the PokerStars parent for US$4.9 billion, it has become the world's biggest publicly-listed online poker brand.