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Rumor Dept.: Asmodee Potentially Maybe Up for Possible Sale

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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The Reuters news agency posted a short item from Harry Brumpton and Pamela Barbaglia on May 9, 2018 that suggests Asmodee is being shopped around:

Asmodee Group, the French maker of board game Catan and distributor of Pokemon cards in parts of Europe, is exploring a sale that could value it at more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.

The Guyancourt, France-based company, owned by private equity firm Eurazeo SE (EURA.PA), has hired investment bankers to run a sale process, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential.

The company generates about 100 million euros in 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to one of the sources.

A spokesman for Eurazeo declined to comment, while Asmodee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Since Eurazeo took over Asmodee in 2013 in a 143 million euro deal, Asmodee has been aggressively expanding beyond Europe and into the United States.
I am not a financial expert in any way whatsoever, so I can't speculate on what kind of valuation Asmodee might have, but it seems disingenuous to mention only the €143 million spent for Asmodee in 2013 and not other monies paid for Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Rebel, Mayfair Games, Lookout Games, Spot it, Love Letter, multiple distribution companies, and assorted other morsels.

I tweeted a link to this Reuters article earlier today, but I had hesitated on posting it in this space. Pointing at rumors seems more kosher than highlighting and amplifying them, I guess, yet many people Geekmailed, emailed, and otherwise pointed out the article to me, so I thought I'd go ahead and talk about it here, partly due to people starting to post about it in other BGG News threads, but mostly due to this note from a user: "There is an article stating that Asmodee is preparing to sell itself to a larger company. Please print this as it negatively affects our industry as a whole."

Hmm, I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. Everything that Asmodee owns could vanish from retailer shelves, and gamers would still have hundreds of different titles available to them. Other titles would migrate into the position of gateway games currently occupied by Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, and Pandemic, and those titles would be placed on shelves in Target, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and other mainstream outlets instead of what's there now.

Yes, particular titles might disappear from retail outlets following a sale, disappointing those fans of the game who had hoped for expansions or who had pressed it on others and wanted to see their favorite games adopted by others, but that has always happened in the game industry. Such things happen in almost every industry. The games already published will still exist, and the designers of those games will go on to create other games for other publishers. The industry as a whole has been expanding Jiffy Pop-style for years, and I keep wondering when things will get overheated and start to burn. Removing titles from the market would give room for those titles that remain behind to get space on shelves — and when the new owner of Asmodee, assuming one does emerge, doesn't remove games from the market but instead redoubles efforts to place them in more markets (which is what I would expect to happen given that the buyer will want a return on that investment), then those games will likely be introduced to even more people thanks to the release of the 2021 film Pandemic starring Tom Holland and Zendaya and the Ticket to Wakanda tie-in for Black Panther 2 in 2022.

Whatever your feelings about Asmodee, Asmodee ≠ the game industry. The industry is far, far larger than one company...
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