Trading in Amaya Gaming Group Inc. (AYA), reported to be in talks to acquire gambling website PokerStars, was halted following a 28 percent surge in the past two days.
Amaya, a maker of gambling equipment and systems, surged 17 percent to C$14.08 today in Toronto before trading was halted. The company is discussing a deal that would potentially allow PokerStars to return to the U.S., the website CalvinAyre.com reported in May. The stock was halted for pending news, according to a statement from the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
Tim Foran, a spokesman for Amaya, declined to comment in an e-mail yesterday, citing company policy not to comment on rumors or speculation. Eric Hollreiser, a spokesman for PokerStars, also declined to comment.
Acquiring PokerStars would mark a significant leap for Amaya in the $4 billion global business of online poker. The company, based near Montreal, generated $155 million in revenue last year. Gaining new ownership would remove an obstacle for PokerStars, the largest site of its kind, to return to the U.S., after past clashes with authorities prevented the site from taking part in legal online gambling emerging in some states.
PokerStars agreed in 2012 to pay $731 million to settle money-laundering charges with the Justice Department. Founder Isai Scheinberg remains under indictment in the U.S. His company, Rational Group Ltd., is based in the Isle of Man.
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