The reputation of the scandalous bookmaker is being “laundered” for the American buyer.
Forbes Ukraine editors posted on Facebook the cover of the December issue of the magazine with a photo of Katerina Belorusskaya, the owner of Parimatch. This caused a storm of emotions on the social network, as many believed that the founder and owner of Parimatch was Eduard Schwindlerman. Moreover, some looked with envy at the photo of a 31-year-old girl who, judging by the title of the article, amassed a gambling empire with a turnover of $ 550 million, according to colleagues from Forbes.
We probably all missed something. But to the question of when Ekaterina became the owner of Parimatch, the press service of the company did not answer us, referring to the fact that all the answers are in Forbes. dev.ua decided to figure out how the new owner of the company is connected with Schwindlerman, and why the largest gambling company in the country is changing owners.
What is Parimatch
The Parimatch brand appeared in 1994, and in 1998 the company started working on the Russian market as a gambling operator. In 2002, the company launched the first betting site in the CIS and two years later entered the Belarusian market. In 2011, the company obtained an online gambling license, and in 2014 restructured the business. After that, the company opened a representative office in Kazakhstan, Cyprus, sold the franchise to Tanzania. The mother market of Parimatch is the CIS. It accounts for 70% of the revenue.
After the legalization of the gambling market in Ukraine in 2020, Parimatch became the first legal bookmaker (the company has a license for bookmaking and online casinos). The company continues to develop and enters the markets of Great Britain, Portugal, Canada, Australia, India, Latin America and South Asia.
Now the company is positioning itself not only as a gambling operator, but also as an IT product company, which employs about 1000 developers.
It is noteworthy that Parimatch spends enormous marketing budgets. For example, the company’s logo on an English club jersey costs $ 40 million a year. If Manchester City is on the sleeve – $ 17 million.
The company’s CEO Serhiy Portnov estimated the share of the company’s market in Ukraine at 30%, despite the fact that the total market in the country, according to him, is about $ 1 billion.In the same amount, Portnov in June 2021, in a conversation with Yevgeny Chernyak on his YouTube channel Big Money also appreciated the value of the Parimatch brand. In previous interviews (YouTube channel G-Spot in November 2019), he talked about the valuation of $ 500 million.
Sergei Portnov grew up in the Forest in Kiev, studied in the UK. My father was a professional player. Has been with Parimatch since 2012. Became a minority shareholder in 2014. He is now a Cypriot citizen.
“Now, probably, just a billion, – said Portnov – But, unfortunately, no one will give that kind of money. The enterprise is specific. Very uncomfortable. You yourself understand how many companies in the CIS were sold for a billion. ”
Portnov does not disclose the income of the holding. But in an interview with Big Money, he gave figures that allow him to roughly represent. Every month, one million users of the platform make 5 billion bets. As revenue, the platform takes about 5% for itself. In another interview for the Point G Youtube channel at the end of 2019, Portnov claimed that the average player’s bet was $ 6.5.
If you multiply 5 billion bets by $ 6.5 million, you get a huge amount of $ 32.5 billion! Of these, 5% is the company’s revenue. That is, $ 1.65 billion.
Here, perhaps, Portnov made a reservation. 5 billion rates a month seems like too many. And $ 1.65 billion is hardly the platform’s monthly income. More like an annual one. In an interview with the “Point G” channel, a much lower figure appeared – 50 million bids per month. Applying a similar calculation, we can assume that in this case, the platform’s income was about $ 200 million a year two years ago, which looks more realistic. Portnov also mentioned that the platform grows by at least 50% per year. Thus, we can assume that in 2021 the revenue already exceeds $ 400 million, if, of course, the growth rates are maintained.
Castling of legal entities
There are two legal entities registered in Ukraine with the name Parimatch. The difference between them is only one hyphen in the name.
The first is Pari-Match LLC, established in 1995. This business was started by Eduard Shvindlerman and Tatiana Belorusskaya. Little is known about the company’s financial performance. Based on the information on YоuControl, this business is heavily credited.
In 2009, the gambling business was banned in Ukraine. And in 2017, Pari-Match LLC got into a scandalous story related to the investigation of the Prosecutor General’s Office on the legalization of money obtained by criminal means.
The investigator argued that a number of persons organized access to gambling in an electronic (virtual) casino under the Pari-Match brand, which is illegal on the basis of the Law “On the Prohibition of Gambling Business in Ukraine”.
It is known from another definition of the court’s decision that the accounts of Pari-Match were seized. But the lawyer managed to prove that his ward is not a defendant in criminal proceedings. The arrest was lifted.
By the way, this is not the only arrest of Pari-Match property. In 2015, an investigator from the Ministry of Internal Affairs sought a similar measure. The message is similar – the company allegedly organized gambling on the parimatch.com website.
“There was a moment when we wanted to sell the company with slippers. It was 2016. They gave us $ 200 million. We agreed on the price, but at that moment, ironically, we were “slammed”. The office did not work for two months because of the “friendly” visit of certain authorities, ”Portnov said in an interview with the Point G YouTube channel.
It’s funny that some media quoted Shvindlerman in 2015, when Pari-Match became the title sponsor of the Ukrainian Football Championship. He then said that his company had not been present on the market for 6 years (that is, since the adoption of the law banning gambling). And the most interesting thing is that it has nothing to do with the parimatch.com site.
YouControl’s connections are illustrated like this.
Schwindlerman’s Pari-Match appears on eight sanctions lists in different countries. Now the company has revoked its VAT payer certificate.
The second legal entity is Parimatch LLC with an authorized capital of UAH 60 million. This is a fresh company, established in November 2019, after all the scandalous stories. It is controlled by the Cyprus offshore company Fisrtpm Entertainment Ltd. According to Youcontrol data, the main owner of this offshore company is Katerina Evgenievna Belorusskaya. This LLC received two official licenses for gambling in 2021 – bookmaking and online casinos.
Judging by the published financial data, the company is solvent.
It is interesting that legally, judging by the registers, the two companies of the same name are not connected in any way. Sergei Portnov described the structure of the business in an interview with the Point G YouTube channel: “It so happened that shareholders and management are tied people. We are all busy. ”
The head of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries, Ivan Rudy, did not answer journalists’ questions about checking the owners of the new Parimatch LLC, which was issued two licenses.
YouControl gives the answer to the question of who is behind Ekaterina Belorusskaya’s company like this.
And the owner of the intellectual property is the Cyprus-based Ericius Investments Limited.
Who is Katerina Belorusskaya
Little is known about the identity of the new owner of Parimatch. Three independent interlocutors in the gambling market assured that she is the daughter of the founders of the first Pari-Match LLC, Tatiana Belorusskaya and Eduard Shvindlerman. The Parimatch.tech website indicates that the girl is the founder and member of the company’s supervisory board.
Kateryna is a graduate of the Kiev National University. T. Shevchenko with a Master of Journalism degree.
In general, Katerina has many functional responsibilities: she heads the corporate development department, oversees operations and the company’s growth strategy, promotes the employer brand Parimatch and an international tech company.
In addition, Belorusskaya is developing the Parimatch Foundation, the corporation’s charitable foundation.
The girl began her career in the holding 10 years ago. In 2011, she started as an account manager in the business development department. A year later, she became a project manager and held this position until 2016.
In 2014, Katerina established the work of Parimatch in Kazakhstan, and in 2016 she became Deputy Director for Business Development, took Parimatch to Africa.
Since 2017, Katerina has been working on the development of Parimatch Holdings in Cyprus as Director of Business Development. By the way, Belarusian is listed as a citizen of Cyprus in the registers. In this country, she received a license, which, according to the Parimatch.tech website, allowed her to create an online platform in the market and subsequently gain a 5% market share.
“I live in two countries – Ukraine and Cyprus, and these are continuous transfers,” Belorusskaya said in an interview with Marie Claire in 2017.
But Katerina’s business is not only gambling. According to the data of the state registers united in the YouControl system, Belorusskaya is the beneficiary of several more legal entities:
– LLC “PM Tech” with a UV of only 100 000 UAH was founded by the Cypriot BTB BETLAB HOLDINGS LTD just a month ago, in October 2021.
– Founded a year ago LLC “PokerMatch UA”, 25.6% of which Belorusskaya owns together with a citizen of Cyprus and CEO Parimach Sergey Portnov (31.75%), as well as a citizen of Latvia Sergei Kartashov (40%). Let us remind you that PariMatch Tech recently announced the purchase of Pokermatch. This business is controlled by the owners through the VIPLEY MEDIA HOLDING LIMITED company.
– JSC “Closed non-diversified venture corporate fund“ Freya Estate ”with UAH 298 million of authorized capital Kateryna also controls through TWIG ESTATE LIMITED. The fund’s revenue in 2020 amounted to UAH 30,000.
– LLC “RA DEV’YATA PLANETA”, in which Belorusskaya owns 60%, the remaining 40 are owned by a certain Sergei Khomenko. Katerina controls the company through TVIG ISTATE LIMITED, but does not have a direct decisive influence. Revenue in 2020 amounted to UAH 80,000.
– PE “FUNDAMENT – 2006” – the oldest of Ekaterina’s businesses, the company was founded in 2006. Belorusskaya owns the company in half with Sergei Zinchenko.
Why is Parimatch such a castling?
Such radical changes in the ownership structure of the largest betting operator in the CIS may be related to the fact that it is being prepared for sale.
Three players in the gambling market, who wished to remain anonymous, believe that Parimatch is actively preparing for the sale. This is the reason for the restructuring of the holding and increased PR activity.
The gambling market expert, who wished not to be named, is sure that the company is being prepared for sale. In his opinion, the change of owners is a tool for “whitening” the business from the former negative.
“Schwindlerman is heavily in the shade and has a not-so-good sillage. It is necessary to cleanse, get rid of the negativity. I would not be surprised if soon, when the tax rules for the game are adopted, a new owner appears. Already real. Schwindlerman has long wanted to sell the business. And an asset with minimal negative costs is more expensive than an asset with a large one, ”the expert says.
The owner of a large gambling company, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that rumors about the sale of Parimatch were circulating on the market. “I’ve been hearing this for the last couple of years. But I don’t know anything concrete. I think they want to sell. The question is whether anyone will buy. High price, main market Ukraine is risky. Again, the question is what will be sold – only Ukraine or everything? If that’s all, then the deal is probably even more complicated, ”he says, and estimates the potential cost of a competitor at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Another market participant believes that the Forbes cover is a pre-sale of Parimatch. “But pre-sale preparation began even earlier – with the process of legalizing the game,” he says.
And this scenario looks very convincing. As Boris Baum, a freelance advisor to the deputy head of the President’s Office Kirill Tymoshenko, told in an interview with LIGA.net in May 2020, the legalization of the market began with the fact that Parimatch, with the help of lawyer Andrey Astapov from Eterna Law, developed a separate bill on bookmaking.
“Parimatch is already a global player, they are number 5 in the world. And they understood that it was not profitable for them to work outside the legal field, ”Baum said.
And one of the developers of the bill on the legalization of gambling previously said that Parimatch was one of the initiators of the legalization of the gambling market, since the owners of the company had an offer to buy the business by American investors on the table. “But only if the company’s activities in the country are legal. They allegedly offered $ 500 million for the company, ”he says.