By Tim Poole
Following Sportradar's acquisiton of omni-channel platform business Optima, Gambling Insider caught up with Paolo Personeni, Sportradar's Managing Director MTS (Managed Trading Services).
With a lot of choice in the market, what was it about Optima which stood out to Sportradar?
We did a pretty extensive analysis of what was available in the market. There are quite a significant number of platforms out there. They’re all different in terms of focus; some of them have a regional focus, some of them are more for the global market; some are feature and function-rich and others are more scalable. It is platforms that have a mixture of feature-richness and a very robust architecture that prove successful in terms of performance. So, the overarching principal for us was to identify a feature and function-rich platform with proven robustness and scalability.
This provides the best springboard to achieve our goal, which is to become the leading force in the turnkey solutions market. It is a great springboard for us also for innovation, which has always been a characteristic of Sportradar. But there are other very important factors, like cultural fit. The people at Optima fit and integrate well into our structure, given their proven expertise, capabilities and passion for the product.
So, overall, we conducted an extensive pre-analysis to shortlist the best candidates. With this, we then approached Optima and, when we agreed the terms and conditions, we performed extensive due diligence, which ticked all the boxes. We are very satisfied with the acquisition and the way we’ve already started working with our new colleagues.
Does this acquisition change your strategy or main focuses in any way?
It’s a natural fit but the fact is it will provide something more in regards to our strategy.
We already had in place a partnership programme, where we already provide turnkey services to customers in cooperation with our partner platforms. That is going to stay as it is; and, paradoxically, the ties with our partners may even become stronger. Our services will remain standalone and platform agnostic, as there are situations and market segments where the current partnership programme is a perfect fit.
But we always aim to support customer objectives. There are market segments and situations, in emerging markets like the US, as well as other cases, where having the Optima platform will be a natural integration to our services and represent strong acceleration.
Was this merger planned a long time ago or was it an opportunity that presented itself quite quickly?
It didn’t come by chance. It’s a strategic direction that has built up and matured over the last year and a half. There were a number of market signals; the preliminary work, as you can appreciate, doesn’t happen overnight. We looked at a number of platforms to understand which one would be the best fit for our needs. So it didn’t happen fast. In addition, Optima was one of our partners already. So we already worked together and were already integrated. It was a progressive partnership which became a full-blown acquisition.
Did the fact Optima was a partner already make the negotiations a smoother process?
Yes, there was a strong element of embedded initial trust. The working relationship of the two teams had already been tested. So, for sure, it made the overall negotiations and transaction easier. We knew how they were organised and their processes. We knew assessing and completing the acquisition was certainly going to be a lot of work. But we started in a good position as we are moving in the same direction, share the same market vision and and have the same views about product development. There were also already similarities in terms of organisational processes.
If more chances for M & A present themselves, will Sportradar acquire more firms?
This is the one-million dollar question! We believe Optima is a perfect springboard and exactly what we need to grow in the turnkey platform services. Significant investments from both the Sportradar and Optima side are planned and, last but not least, it will also help improve the service already offered by Optima to its customers.
But Sportradar has traditionally always been active in the acquisition market. We have acquired in the past years companies of different sizes in different areas of our business, which all keep contributing to the growth of Sportradar. Our strategy is based on organic growth and continuous investments in our product and services. But further acquisitions can’t be ruled out if they help to complete our product offering and accelerate our growth.