The African sports betting giant, SportPesa, may be planning an IPO early next year. This will make it the first African gambling company to attempt a float on a stock exchange. Industry rumors have it that SportPesa executives have appointed advisors ahead of their float.
When asked about the reports coming from the Kenyan-based company, SportPesa’s chief executive officer, Ronald Karauri responded with a curt “no”.
This hasn’t stopped the rumors swirling that the IPO could be used as a way to rejuvenate SportPesa’s business in Kenya and other African gambling market where it operates. The group also has operations in Italy and the United Kingdom, where it is the shirt sponsor of English Premier League club Everton.
In a statement issued by SportPesa, the group said: “SportPesa is a privately-owned company and is constantly exploring opportunities that will create value for our stakeholders. As and when appropriate, we will communicate with each of our stakeholders.”
African gambling industry expert, YahayMaikori noted that SportPesa’s advancement towards an IPO float was “a no-brainer”.
“If you look at their recent sponsorship acquisitions, especially those with the English football brands, it is quite indicative of their wish to leverage on those brands to reposition themselves for global competition,” he said.
Maikori added that, having caught the world’s attention, SportPesa needs to achieve what he calls “impactful funding” in order to compete in a cut-throat industry.
“I think that is why an IPO makes sense,” he said. “For me, it’s a no-brainer.”
For SportPesa to float on a stock market would be, according to Maikori “trailblazing.”
He said that it would reaffirm what many have been saying for a long time about the African gambling market: That local operators have the ability and the potential to create gaming giants.
“In almost all the gaming markets in Africa, local operators lead and control market share,” he said.
Maikori added that the foreign companies had a lot to learn on the need to localize their operations to suit the African gambling market’s needs.