Big Fish Games being acquired by

Kentucky Derby host Churchill Downs acquires Big Fish Games for $885 mn

Churchill Downs, the racetrack giant that hosts the Kentucky Derby, is acquiring US-based publisher of mobile games Big Fish Games for up to $885 million.

Big Fish GamesChurchill Downs will pay at least $485 million, and potential additional payments of up to $350 million, based on Big Fish's earnings for 2015, and a $50 million bonus to Paul Thelen, founder and CEO of Big Fish, based on the company's 2016 bookings. 

Churchill Downs will pay $15 million in stock and the remaining in cash.

The merger, which is expected to close by the end of the year, has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is conditional upon receipt of required regulatory approvals.

''The acquisition of Big Fish and our entry into the rapidly growing mobile and online games industry gives us new products, new customers, new geographies and new sizeable growth opportunities,'' said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs.

Bif Fish founder Paul Thelen said, ''We are extremely proud of the company we have built over the last twelve years. Churchill Downs is a company with a commitment to interactive entertainment and a track record of growth and performance. We believe Big Fish is now positioned to become an even greater force in the casual, mid-core and social casino mobile and online games industry.''

Founded in 2002 by Thelen, Big Fish is the world's largest producer and distributor of casual games. Through its mobile and online distribution platforms, Big Fish has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in 150 countries from its portfolio of over 450 mobile games and 3,500 PC games.

The Seattle-based has emerged as a top grossing mobile publisher worldwide with a portfolio that includes the No.1 mobile social casino game, Big Fish Casino.

The privately-held company is reported to have annual turnover of around $210 million and has about 700 employees.

Churchill Downs is a publicly traded whose business includes premier racing, gaming and entertainment.

The Kentucky-based company owns five racetracks, six casinos, is the country's leading online wagering business, has a video poker business, a poker media and brand company, a network of off-track betting facilities, and a collection of racing-related data, totalisator and telecommunication companies that support its sports and gaming operations.