Canadian gambling group cuts jobs in Dublin ahead of planned €12bn merger

Stars Group has been reducing staff levels as it eyes deal with Paddy Power owner Flutter

The Stars Group plans to merge with Flutter, owner of Paddy Power, to form a global gambling behemoth with more than 10m customers. File photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

The Stars Group plans to merge with Flutter, owner of Paddy Power, to form a global gambling behemoth with more than 10m customers. File photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

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A gambling business eyeing a €12 billion merger with Irish betting giant Flutter Entertainment is cutting jobs at a Dublin office.

Flutter, owner of bookie Paddy Power, plans to merge with Canada’s The Stars Group, whose businesses include Full Tilt Poker and Sky Bet, to form a global gambling behemoth with more than 10 million customers.

It has emerged that the Stars Group has been cutting jobs at its office in Cherrywood, Co Dublin over the past 12-15 months. Sources there say numbers have fallen to about 260 from a total closer to 330 more than a year ago.

One group, responsible for customer service, has been put on protective notice and told that their jobs are likely to go in December 2020.

Some workers have been laid off while others have been told their jobs are being phased out and have been offered alternative positions within the business.

Sources say that other workers who choose to leave outside the job-cutting process are not being replaced in Dublin. Instead Stars is opting to fill positions in Bulgaria and India, where it also has offices.

As well as customer service, staff in the office work in trading, security, quality control and software development.

In a statement, the Stars Group pointed out that its Pokerstars operation faced difficulties last year, including disruption in some markets. As a consequence, the Toronto-based group said that, independent of its deal with Flutter, it began cutting costs.

“We believe our proposals will help us to deliver long-term sustainable growth. Dublin remains an important hub for the business,” its statement said.

Slowing growth

Analysts highlighted that growth in online poker has slowed while pointing out that the Stars Group had debts of more than €4 billion when it and Flutter announced the tie-in last October.

Competition regulators in several jurisdictions are reviewing the planned merger, which it is calculated will create a business worth €10-12 billion should it go ahead. The deal will bring operations in Ireland, Britain, Europe, the US and Australia under one roof.

Flutter shareholders will get 54.64 per cent of the combined group while Stars Group investors will receive 45.36 per cent.

Flutter’s chief executive, Peter Jackson, will take the same role at the combined business. The company will be domiciled in the Republic.

The Clonskeagh, Dublin-headquartered group, which also owns Betfair, Fanduel in the US and Sportsbet in Australia, last week reported profit fell 38 per cent last year to €163.4 million.