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Rivals Network Sold!

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 29/12/2003

ukbetting plc ("ukbetting" or "the Company" or "the Group"), a leading UK on-line gaming and sports content business, today announces the Acquisition of Rivals Digital Media Limited ("Rivals"), a leading UK on-line sports content business.

Key Points

  • Rivals owns and operates the online brands www.rivals.net, www.football365.com, www.planetrugby.com, www.planetf1.com, www.golf365.com and www.cricket365.com.

  • In combination with ukbetting's sport contents brands (SportingLife.com, TEAMtalk and Sportal), the acquisition will consolidate ukbetting's position as the leading independent provider of sports content, with over 5.5 million combined unique users.

    Background to Rivals

    Rivals is an on-line sports content business formed by the merger of Rivals.net and the 365 sports content businesses in December 2001. Rivals.net was owned by Chrysalis Group plc and 365 by Eckoh Technologies plc. Following the merger Chrysalis and Eckoh both owned approximately 43% each of the shares in Rivals, with the Rivals management team owning the remaining shares.

    Since the merger of the businesses revenues have grown substantially and the business became EBITDA profitable during the four months ended 30, November 2003, and had audited net assets of £3,123 at that date.

    As well as publishing sites on behalf of clients, such as Zurich Rugby (www.zurichrugby.co.uk) the official website of the Zurich Premiership, Rivals operates Rugby World (www.rugbyworld.com) the website of the world's biggest selling rugby magazine and Jacques Villeneuve's official site (www.jv-world.com). Rivals ABC electronic audited circulation is over 2.2 million unique users a month.

    Rivals has multiple revenue streams including ecommerce, cross platform content distribution to third parties, and content sales to the mobile data market. Rivals has also produced and retailed a variety of both its own, and bespoke, SMS packages both on and offline via third parties.

    ukbetting

    In the two years following the Company's initial listing on AIM, ukbetting has acquired three of the UK's leading online sports content businesses: SportingLife, TEAMtalk, and Sportal. ukbetting has successfully integrated these into its content division which, through a combination of radical restructuring and organic growth, has become EBITDA positive. The content division, driven by strong advertising revenues and the benefit of content sales, including sales to UK bookmakers, saw revenues rise from £402,000 in the six months ended 30 June 2002 to £3.5 million in the six months ended 30 June 2003 (based on ukbetting Interim Results). The sportinglife.com and TEAMtalk.com sports sites now jointly attract over 4.0 million users a month.

    Commenting on this announcement, Peter Dubens, Executive Vice chairman of ukbetting said today:

    "The acquisition of Rivals and Football365 further strengthens our position in the provision of sports content, both online and for the mobile industry. We are now amongst the largest independent online sports information providers in the UK and this latest acquisition will allow us to further improve the scope and quality of information we provide to our customers. It is still our intention to keep the integrity and style of all the different sites that we operate, including the recent acquisition, whilst benefiting from a centralised overhead.

    Rivals is a tightly run business with growing revenues and low operating costs which has been profitable since September 2003. We look forward to working with the Rivals management team.

    Our profitable sports content division can exploit further synergies through this acquisition and continues to trade well. We continue to develop new product offerings for our customers and recently re-launched Sportal.com as a broadband interactive channel and Sports.co.uk to provide ring tones, games and other content for mobile phones in the UK."

    Richard Pembroke, Chief Executive Officer of Rivals, commented:

    "Our merger with ukbetting marks a new stage in the history of Rivals Digital Media. Our staff have achieved an extraordinary amount in two years culminating in the last quarter's strong profit. We are excited to now be joining forces with a major player in the online sports market. Like ourselves, ukbetting have a proven track record in successfully integrating companies and we are confident that together even greater success can be achieved"




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