The Other Side of the Coin, with Relax Gaming

By Gambling Insider
We’ve heard from one side of the transaction, now Co-Founder and Chairman Patrik Österåker gives Tim Poole the lowdown on Relax Gaming’s view of the Kindred Group acquisition

Did Relax Gaming always have this kind of deal in mind with Kindred Group, given it was previously 1/3 owned by the operator?

I suppose it has been in our peripheral vision for some time, given that we’ve been expanding exponentially in recent years, which means we’ve naturally attracted both industry attention and that of potential investors.

The other thing is that Kindred and Relax have had a complementary partnership for over a decade and with that comes familiarity with our team, processes and roadmap, so completing sole-ownership acquisition has ended up being a logical step. From a business perspective for Relax, that time-forged relationship and consequent understanding means continuity without disruption, as we continue to grow and deliver on our strategic goals. Also, as we’re active in a wide range of regulated markets, this benefits our servicing of third-parties, which remains paramount, as does developing new tools to assist with regulatory heavy lifting. What’s ultimately important is that the delivery route of both our content and partnership content will remain the same for all our operator partners, and is both robust and scalable.

 

We have discussed the benefits to the operator with Kindred CEO Henrik Tjärnström. But what are the biggest benefits on the supply side for Relax Gaming?

Kindred is a leading operator and comes with the natural benefits of an established owner, strong backing and additional security; but there’s also great value in consolidating ownership under a single entity on decision making. For Relax and its staff, it means the continuation of our existing business practices, maintained independence and peace of mind for our employees – something that was paramount in any agreed deal. We’re proud to have an incredibly low staff turnover, with some key members having been at Relax since the start, 11 years ago, and we’re able to maintain this essential advantage under the Kindred deal. 

To be able to operate a successful business, as we have done since start-up, it’s absolutely key that we look after our people properly. Kindred’s understanding of Relax put it in the strongest position to maintain that.

 

Recently, Flutter Entertainment purchased Singular in another similar example. Do you see this trend of Malta-based suppliers being taken over by operators continuing?

As in any industry, the procurement of platforms with proprietary technology that has proven itself to be scalable and robust will always attract interest from parties that need it. The alternative is a white-label or building from scratch. The first doesn’t guarantee a fit and the latter takes time, investment in the right people and the results are never guaranteed. Purchasing existing technology gives the buyer security, and allows them to understand exactly what they’re getting. Where it’s a requirement and the right assets are available, this kind of deal will continue to be attractive.

 

We understand Relax will continue under a ‘business as usual’ policy, certainly retaining its leadership and independence. With that in mind, what are the company’s goals for 2022?

Absolutely. As already mentioned, Kindred knows Relax well, our makeup, teams and the way we work. The confidence that led to the acquisition in the first place provides the same faith in us to continue doing what we do without intervention. The drive for excellence has allowed us to reach the point that we have (and we’ve achieved much in a relatively short time) but we still have further and ambitious objectives.

The strategy thus far works and as part of the agreement, we’ll continue to run as a separate entity with the same goal and vision as we’ve always had, to drive differentiation via delivery of content. As always, we are looking to continue our game development process and have exciting new concepts to launch. We will naturally also continue to sign new partners and expand our distribution reach with many new tier-one operators coming through.

A key focus for the coming 12 months will be our new regulated market openings and developments, as well as features to be added to our newly announced Relax Apex architecture framework, which opens up a great deal of opportunities.

 

Will it feel strange within the development team to be making content for other operators and content just for Kindred?

I don’t anticipate any changes for our development teams so the short answer is not really. For the best part of four years, we’ve been operating in a largely similar fashion and the transition is purely in ownership, so it’s unlikely the teams will see or feel any real impact on a day-to-day level.

We’ve created custom content for Kindred for some time, and were founded on our exclusive supply of bingo and poker products, so the acquisition strengthens the protection of Kindred’s investment. The only thing that will change is a greater understanding from a single owner.

We’ll continue to serve every customer we have and take on new ones that provide market growth for Relax, and our third-party studio partners.

 

We at Gambling Insider have dubbed this kind of deal ‘integrated independence’, whereby two companies merge overall but maintain their own independence at the operational level. Is this a fair phrase? (We’re hoping it becomes a thing!)

Possibly! But in reality, it’s less about integrated independence and perhaps more about protected or maintained independence. Kindred purchased a business in a strong and sustained growth phase, with no intention of disrupting the flow of our strategy and organisation. Why would you change a formula that has proven successful?

The deal with Kindred will, like most things we look to do, result in a seamless transition that allows us to maintain the trajectory we’re fortunate to be on.

The journey toward our goal has, and will continue to be, both rapid and sustained in terms of distribution and market reach.

We’re still actively working with key operators and will maintain our increase in distribution by adding new partners across our business. We do this from a position of strength, not only endowed by the efforts we’ve ploughed into our Silver Bullet/Powered by Relax initiatives and our proprietary content, but going beyond this with further technical proficiency in solutions such as Relax Apex.

Through this and our commitment to business simplicity, we believe we’ve created a formidable base for ourselves, and Kindred has long since recognised that. It’s now down to us to continue doing what we do best to justify that confidence – and it’s a challenge we relish.

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