This article is featured on SBC Magazine – Issue 7 – February 2020 – M&A Reaction
Carsten Koerl (CEO of Sportradar) and Jacob Lopez (CEO of Optima)
Sportradar has set about becoming the world’s leading supplier of modular turnkey betting services and solutions after joining forces with Optima, an award-winning sports betting and gaming omni-channel platform business.
Late last year, Sportradar completed the acquisition of sports betting and gaming omnichannel platform provider Optima in a deal effective immediately.
The acquisition means that Sportradar has extended its current betting services portfolio to become a fullservice B2B data, betting, trading and player management platform business. In response, we caught up with Optima CEO Jacob Lopez and Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl for their reaction to forming this new ‘one-stopshop’ data, betting, trading, marketing and player management platform business.
SBC: Jacob, how excited are you by the prospect of this full-service betting solution?
JL: I think the combination of Sportradar products and services with the OptimaMGS platform not only cover all services an operator needs today, but are those that a leading operator will definitely demand from a top quality turnkey sports betting and gaming solution. Our products are rich in functionalities and are designed to perform, to scale and to be flexible. The combined forces of Sportradar and Optima are no doubt creating the organisation with stronger potential in the worldwide B2B market today, and I doubt there could be anyone in my position that would not be very excited. I’m really lucky to be able to push forward this vision.
SBC: And Carsten, how pleased are you to announce this deal?
CK: We are very pleased to have announced this deal. Optima is a market leader in delivering high quality betting and igaming services around the world renowned for utilising the best technology to provide clients with advanced and flexible gaming platforms. This company was highly attractive to Sportradar as it would help us achieve a 360 product portfolio offering a full sportsbook solution for clients. The acquisition is an integral part of our future growth. The platform will extend our current risk management and trading solution, Managed Trading Services (MTS), to effectively make us a complete betting, trading and platform business.
SBC: Having started out with just 12 colleagues in 2012, was a big merger like this always part of your vision for Optima?
JL: Actually, a merger was never part of it. The vision of Optima is not
different before and after the merge, and that’s the great thing and why this merger has been positively evaluated by me personally. While we have been approached by tens of organizations in the last couple of years, the one and only merging process we have started, has been the one with Sportradar.
Opposite to what rumours recently said in the news, we had never started another process. At Optima we were not looking for investment, we were not raising funds. The idea of combining with Sportradar was attractive because it was the natural step for Optima; it was either that, or we would have gone for marketing, trading and data services ourselves. While we had all the technology and tools ourselves to run a successful marketing, managed trading services and data distribution B2B business, they were different businesses on their own; they aren’t businesses that just require technology, they require a lot of excellence and talent on top of an already excellent technology. It would have taken us considerable time to commercialize a service at the level of quality we always look to offer to our operators.
A sensible option was to merge with the leading trading and data services supplier in the market, to create the best combination possible with best platform, OptimaMGS, and best marketing, trading and data services in the market, from Sportradar.
SBC: And what about for Sportradar, Carsten. Did you set out to find a company to complete the betting and gaming value chain? Or was it just that the right opportunity came about with Optima?
CK: We undertook a comprehensive review of the market and following that selected Optima as the platform provider that best met our goals. We identified Optima as having the best technology, backed by a great management team and high-skilled staff. They also share our vision on the future evolution and likely needs of the global betting and gaming market.
As such, we believe they were the best option to help us provide the entire value chain and continue to add to our future growth strategy with an advanced platform that matches our approach to quality and customisability.
SBC: Going back to you, Jacob. How will your existing clients benefit from the deal?
JL: Optima clients first have guarantee that Optima will continue delivering the quality of products, flexibility and great support we have done until this moment. There is no difference regarding the products that a client of Optima was getting from us yesterday, or the ones that will get tomorrow.
Obviously, there will be new products as a result of the combination of the group’s forces, products that will certainly get clients using the Sportradar OptimaMGS platform – putting considerable distance between them and their rivals in terms of technology and product
available to them.
SBC: Carsten, you said that the acquisition is an integral part of our future growth. How much stronger is the Sportradar position in the US as a full ‘one stop shop’ betting services provider?
CK: One of the key reasons behind our decision to acquire a platform is because of the ongoing emergence of legalised betting markets, such as in the US. In line with some of our core objectives, we believe this will lead to a more transparent and nascent sports and betting industry worldwide and, ultimately, we want to help our sports and betting clients to reap the benefits.
With almost two decades within the industry, we understand the
uniqueness of each global market and why having a one-stop-shop sports betting provider is so expedient for clients. In the US, in particular, the platform gives us a greater degree of control for if and when licensing opportunities arise in newly regulated states. With it we are better able to meet local requirements, which is crucial in the various markets across the US and the rest of the world.
SBC: Jacob, with the support of Sportradar what are your key targets
JL: Sportradar agreed with the targets that Optima had already set for 2020. Our key objectives are first guaranteeing that integration of Optima into Sportradar group is successfully done, and that it has zero impact on our current and recently engaged clients, which for me personally, has been a key point in the agreement with Sportradar.
SBC: And the same question to you Carsten. With Optima on board, what are your key targets for 2020?
CK: A detailed integration plan has been developed in partnership with Optima and together we will take this forward across the next year. The acquisition is an integral part of Sportradar’s future growth across the world, including the US, Latin America, and Asia.
Bookmakers and platforms in these different regions have various requirements and we want to be able to offer a portfolio of products and services that can fully serve the needs of the global betting and gaming market.
As we have always done, we will continue to develop our solutions based on the new platform to ensure we remain at the forefront in terms of client needs, utilising our combination of global expertise and cutting-edge innovation.