What’s Really Holding Up the Full Tilt Takeover?

February 6, 2012

As the Full Tilt Poker buyout by Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) gets closer and closer to being finalized, more little details keep popping up that may or may not be affecting the deal. Some believe that Chris “Jesus” Ferguson may be standing in the way of the Full Tilt restoration. According to reports, after Black Friday went down last April, Ferguson pumped $14.3 million into the company in hopes to help prevent the company from going under. He also had an ulterior motive, though. He thought that by “investing” in Full Tilt Poker, he would have some stake in the company once it got back on its feet.

Ferguson, who has received about $60 million from the company since 2007 as co-owner, viewed his $14.3 million investment in the company post-Black Friday as a “good will” gesture, hoping to secure his place in the company once it became stable again. However, the problem lies within the negotiations made with the US Department of Justice that state no former Full Tilt board members can return to the company as part owner once the GBT takeover is successful.

While there is no solid proof that this hiccup is holding up the takeover, many in the online poker community are speaking out against Ferguson, calling him selfish and hypocritical. They believe he’s part responsible for the situation Full Tilt is in and now wants to impede former Full Tilt Poker players from getting their account refunds and Full Tilt Poker from going online again.

On the other hand, Benham Dayanim, GBT attorney, claims that the debts of some very high-profile high-stakes poker players are what’s really holding things up. According to Dayanim, players including Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, David Benyamine, Mike Matusow, and Erick Lindgren owe somewhere between $10 and $20 million to the company. These debts were recently discovered when GBT conducted a full investigation of the financial status of Full Tilt.

Dayanim said to Gaming Intelligence, “The diligence has revealed that the financial position is worse than we had anticipated. We do not want to litigate a whole bunch of individual cases against professionals post-acquisition so we are trying to negotiate but we have not been making a lot of progress.

“This is not the only issue that is holding up the sale but it is a significant one. The company has greater liabilities — excluding player liabilities — than we had hoped. The forfeiture would extinguish any U.S. claims to the assets but they do not necessarily extinguish creditor claims in other countries.”

In spite of these concerns and other liabilities, they still seem confident that the deal between Full Tilt Poker and the DOJ will be resolved by the end of February.


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