Affiliate Monitor: April 2024

By Stephen Carter

Head of content

Gambling.com Group’s buy of XL Media’s non-US assets after the reporting period bookended a 2023 which saw a reshuffling of the chasing pack behind Better Collective. Scott Longley dissects what will go down as a definitive period for the listed sector.

This issue, Scott Longley analyses the fallout from XL following Catena in jettisoning all non-US assets to focus on this intensely competitive and scale-driven market. This neither removes the M&A target from their backs or secures their future as independent entities.

If XL and Catena do fall prey to the scale they once wielded remains to be seen, but regardless this wave of activity is now the most defining for the sector since Catena began the era of the listed consolidator in 2015. Only a few years ago we were talking about Affiliation 2.0 and now 3.0, driven by scale, automation and AI, is in full effect.

With Better Collective all-in on adtech as part of its sports media extension – but retaining a controlling say over when and to whom Catena’s US business is sold – GAMB and GiG now form a distinct second tier for which only needle-moving M&A will do for investors.

Such assets are naturally scarcer and come with higher premiums than those offloaded by Catena and XL, the subsequent performances of which since changing hands make these sales look more distressed than initially assumed.

The big three getting even bigger is contributing to a toughening environment in core markets for an increasingly remote chasing pack already overstretched by earnouts. While Raketech looks on track to meet its €46m commitment for an asset it paid just €2m upfront, the situation is more intractable for others. 

As always, I would love to hear your feedback on this and other iGBA content at stephen.carter@clariongaming.com.

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