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Dubai firm denies backing Amaya deal; files SEC complaint

The logo of gaming company Amaya Inc. is seen at its head office in Montreal, June 22, 2015.

© Christinne Muschi / Reuters

Dubai-based investment firm KBC Aldini Capital Ltd. has "no involvement" in the proposed multibillion-dollar privatization deal for Canadian online gambling company Amaya Inc. and has filed a complaint with U.S. regulators, its top executive says.

Last week, KBC was one of four international parties listed in news releases and regulatory filings as a new equity investor in Amaya as part of the deal. The proposed transaction is being led by Amaya's founder and former chief executive officer, David Baazov. The filings stated that KBC was due to contribute part of the $3.65-billion that made up the equity portion of the deal.

"I don't know who Amaya is," Kalani Lal, founder and CEO of KBC Aldini Capital, said in a telephone interview from Dubai on Tuesday. "We have not given any commitment, nor have we had any discussions, or any type of verbal communication," he added.

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Related: Amaya's former CEO David Baazov makes $3.5-billion takeover bid

Related (for subscribers): Analysts fret over Amaya's ability to grow amid cancelled merger talks

Read more: Amaya: The largest insider trading investigation in Canadian history

Shares in Amaya fell more than 9 per cent on Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange after The Globe and Mail published Mr. Lal's statement. The stock recovered toward the end of the session, ending down 6 per cent at $18.67. In Nasdaq trading, the shares fell 6.7 per cent to close at $13.85 (U.S.).

When asked how he felt seeing KBC's name listed in public filings as an investor, Mr Lal said: "Something is fishy. Something is fishy. We're investigating it thoroughly."

KBC has filed a complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates Amaya in the United States, Mr. Lal said. "We've submitted a complaint to the SEC about [Mr. Baazov] using KBC's name fraudulently," he said.

Mr. Baazov did not respond to a request for comment. The SEC declined to comment.

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"Amaya is aware of the [Globe and Mail] report regarding Mr. Baazov's November 14th publicly reported proposal to acquire Amaya. Amaya is reviewing the information contained in the report," Eric Hollreiser, an Amaya spokesman, wrote in a e-mail to The Globe on Tuesday evening.

"No definitive agreement has been entered into with respect to a transaction with Mr. Baazov and there can be no assurance that Mr. Baazov's proposal will result in a definitive agreement, or that any such agreement will ultimately result in a completed transaction."

Separately, Ferdyne Advisory Inc. of the British Virgin Islands, another one of the four funds named in last week's filings as an equity investor, appears to be no longer registered as a going concern.

The Virgin Islands Official Gazette, a local registry, states that Ferdyne was stricken from the registry in 2013 for "non-payment of fees." The Globe and Mail was unable to find any current contact information for Ferdyne.

The Globe also reached out to the two other Hong Kong-based investment firms, Head and Shoulders Global Investment Fund and Goldenway Capital, which were also named as equity investors in the going-private proposal for Amaya.

On Monday night, a representative at Head and Shoulders said the firm had no knowledge of Amaya. But on Tuesday, Stanley Choi, group chairman with the firm, said in an e-mail to the Globe: "We have been working on Amaya's deal with Mr Baazov." Mr. Choi declined further comment.

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Goldenway Capital has not yet responded to queries.

Canacccord Genuity Group Inc. is named in a filing as the financial advisor to Mr. Baazov, with CEO Dan Daviau listed as a point person for the deal. Mr. Daviau and a Canaccord spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Baazov, who stepped down as CEO in August, surprised analysts and investors last week when he announced that he was leading a proposal to take Amaya private at $24 (Canadian) a share, a premium of 30.9 per cent to the Nov. 11 closing price of the stock.

With files from Stephanie Chambers

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About the Author
Capital Markets Reporter

Niall McGee joined the Globe and Mail in 2014 as a capital markets reporter. Previously, he spent a decade at Business News Network (BNN) as a reporter and segment producer. In 2016, he won a National Newspaper Award (NNA) in business alongside veteran reporter Jacquie McNish for an investigative series into alleged insider trading at online gambling company Amaya Inc. More

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