Nabarros joins online gaming bonanza with Empire Online

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Nabarro Nathanson is capitalising on the booming online gaming sector after landing an instruction to advise Empire Online on a potential £800m-plus takeover by Sportingbet.

The firm scooped the lucrative mandate after acting for Empire on its AIM debut in June. Empire provides marketing for the online gaming industry.

Sportingbet, the AIM-listed online betting and gaming group, which owns the ParadisePoker website, confirmed last Monday (5 September) that it was in discussions with Empire regarding a potential offer.

Sportingbet, which floated on AIM in 1999, has instructed Ashurst head of corporate Adrian Clark. As first reported by The Lawyer (1 November 2004), the silver circle firm won Sportingbet as a new client last summer following a recommendation from German investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.

Meanwhile, last November Ashurst pushed aside Linklaters to scoop its first major corporate deal for Sportingbet, advising the company on the £169.1m acquisition of Paradise Poker and the placing of 55.5 million ordinary shares at £1.10p per share.

According to reports, a deal between the two parties may trigger a counter-bid from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer client Party- Gaming, which is the industry’s biggest poker website operator.

The high-profile bid for Empire comes amid a surge of activity in the online gaming sector, following PartyGaming’s £4.6bn IPO on the London Stock Exchange in July.