PartyGaming confirms Empire bid

PartyGaming Plc., owner of PartyPoker.com, corroborated widespread speculation yesterday when it revealed it is in talks to acquire former partner Empire Online in a statement made to the London Stock Exchange.

Empire confirmed it had received a preliminary approach but no further details were revealed. Industry reports suggest that PartyGaming could offer up to GBP 400 million for the poker 'skin'.

The announcement comes on the heels of PartyGaming's split from Empire Online, owner of Empire Poker. Earlier this month, PartyGaming announced it would be transferring PartyPoker.com players to a new operating platform, one that separates players who enter from third party sites such as Empire Poker from those who enter through PartyPoker.com directly.

Empire Poker served as PartyPoker's main affiliate poker skin over the last number of years, referring players to PartyPoker.com via Empire Poker and taking a cut of the 'rake' as compensation. Experts confirm that PartyGaming launched its new poker platform in order to cut out third party sites and sign new players up directly with PartyPoker.com.

As a result of the change in operating relations, Empire has revealed that gaming revenue generated through poker 'rake' has slowed, and 2005 profits are now estimated at 10% lower than previously forecast.

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