Empire Online to expand?

Empire Online, owner of Noble Poker, has left industry analysts speculating about a possible expansion after the Internet gaming giant hinted it is looking to expand this year through mergers and acquisitions. Empire Online made comments about the possibility when reporting the firm's 57% rise in annual profits this week.

A preliminary statement was released yesterday posting pre-tax profits at $41.2 million year ended December 31, 2005, up from $26.2 million in 2004.

Noble Poker saw an increase in real money players to 29,585 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2005, up 36% from the end of the third quarter. Empire also stated it added around 450 new real money players per day in the month of March, 2006.

In commenting on the successes of Empire Online's 2005 fiscal year, Chairman Lord Steinberg, said: "Following the settlement from PartyGaming, Empire Online is in a very strong position financially. The $250 million received is currently on deposit and is available to finance the acquisition of complementary businesses that can be acquired at a sensible price. The sector is widely expected to go through a period of consolidation and the Company in uniquely placed to emerge as one of the key players in the industry."

Noam Lanir, CEO of Empire Online, said "Now, we have an established and fast growing Licensed Gaming business which operates its own platforms (Club Dice and Noble Poker) and have $250 million cash at our disposal to pursue acquisitions which will enable us to play a leading part in industry consolidation."

*In this article, "the Company" refers to Empire Online.

Please see PartyGaming Buys Empire Poker for details on the acquisition of Empire Poker by PartyGaming.

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