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Rediff.com  » Business » PartyGaming: Indian cashes in $100 million

PartyGaming: Indian cashes in $100 million

Source: PTI
January 12, 2007 16:35 IST
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One of the two Indian founders of online poker company PartyGaming has hit a jackpot of $100 million (about £50 million) by selling more than half of its holding in the company.

Vikrant Bhargava, former marketing director who had quit his position last year, on Thursday sold 160 million shares, accounting for about 4 per cent stake in the company, at a price of 30.5 pence a share.

Bhargava, who had co-founded PartyGaming with another Indian and a fellow student at IIT Delhi Anurag Dikshit, now holds less than 3 per cent stake in the company.

Dikshit remains the largest shareholder with 29 per cent stake.

Bhargava had left the company in August last year to join a new hedge fund of funds Sirius. He is believed to have invested the proceeds from the sale of his stake in this fund.

The two Indians had founded the company with other two founders, former Internet porn entrepreneur Ruth Parasol and her husband Russ DeLeon, who each hold a 15 per cent stake.

None of the four promoters are involved with the company's day-to-day operations.

The sale of shares by Bhargava follows a plunge of nearly 60 per cent in the London-listed company's share price after a crackdown on internet gambling in the US, from where PartyGaming's most of the business revenues originated.

Subsequently, the Gibraltar-based company had started focussing on European and emerging markets, while it had sold its US operations for a token amount of $1.

The company had closed down its 800-employees strong call centre in Bangalore after shutting US operations.

Both Dikhsit and Bhargava had made to the list of the United Kingdom's 10 richest Asian businessmen in 2006 at third and seventh positions, respectively, with a combined wealth of more than £2 billion.

The two Indians had become overnight billionaires with the listing of PartyGaming in London in 2005.

However, when the US government cracked down on Internet gambling business in October last year, the duo lost a whopping fortune worth more than $1 billion in a matter of few days with the shares of the company taking a plunge.

Party Poker is the world's largest online gambling site in terms of revenue and number of players and the US market accounted for more than half of the revenues before the crackdown.

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