14.06.2023

by Bartosz Burzyński

Business success of the Juroszek family

Yesterday’s announcement of Entain’s interest in STS should be a clear signal to Polish business that consistency and focus on one goal is more important than dispersed action. The Juroszek family, by first making a stock market IPO and then acquiring a buyer in the form of a global giant, gave the signal to climb to the top of the business Mount Everest.

The Juroszek family has long been on the list of the richest Poles, but this is not the most important thing in the recent story. In the business media, it was mainly the Atal’s and STS’s stories that broke through most often, and that’s what’s worth paying attention to. No matter what, it is worth giving credit to Mateusz and Zbigniew Juroszek that they have run the STS business perfectly for all the past years and, with few exceptions, have avoided mistakes.

Fighting the invisible grey economy and being in the right place

Practically, until 2017, STS had to struggle with the grey economy, which, in velvet gloves, made omissions from the Polish gambling law. Listed companies even still do this, but for the most part this practice has been stopped, especially in those areas of gambling in which STS specializes.

Since the start of STS online services, i.e., from 2012 until April 2017, STS was exposed to a period of waiting out a difficult situation. Non(legal) operators operated in Poland without any restrictions, while STS waited (passively or not, according to various opinions) for the gambling law to change. It wasn’t until 2017 that the company gained momentum and began to grow rapidly in the following years.

The 2017 Gambling Act was a kind of game changer, and STS, as the market leader, was its biggest beneficiary. If it weren’t for those events, STS wouldn’t exist now in its current form. Being in the market in 2017 gave the biggest incentive for further growth, because the competition in the market was very average. Only Totolotek tried to keep up with both STS and Fortuna (because they are also worth to be mentioned in this story).

STS’s results say it all, as the company recorded dynamic growth. This would not have been possible if more players had been on the market during that time.

GGR

  • 2018 – PLN 641 million GGR
  • 2019 – PLN 767 million GGR
  • 2020 – PLN 824 million GGR
  • 2021 – PLN 1085 million GGR
  • 2022 – PLN 1187 million GGR

NGR

  • 2018 – PLN 351 million NGR
  • 2019 – PLN 397 million NGR
  • 2020 – PLN 425 million NGR
  • 2021 – PLN 565 million NGR
  • 2022 – PLN 663 million NGR

EBITDA

  • 2018 – PLN 185 million
  • 2019 – PLN 165 million
  • 2020 – PLN 171 million
  • 2021 – PLN 216 million
  • 2022 – PLN 273 million

IPO time

From the perspective of STS’s owners, the IPO was a success. The interest was very great, and the whole thing took place at the last good moment for making a stock exchange debut. The total value of the shares in the IPO was PLN 1.1 billion.

The company’s announcements, as well as investor chats prior to the IPO, emphasized that the funds raised would be used, among other things, to develop the investment portfolio within the family office.

It was also a signal to both, the business, and the stock exchange, that STS is the only Polish bookmaking company listed on the stock exchange. Mateusz Juroszek, in an interview, recalled the words of his father Zbigniew Juroszek, who said that every serious company should be on the stock market. However, this was also the moment from which Mateusz Juroszek began to look for a big entity that could step into the role of majority shareholder.

Offer of Entain

Offer of Entain for 100% of shares amounts to £750 million. This means that in the Polish currency, STS shares are valued at PLN 3.89 billion, and the 70% of shares owned by Mateusz and Zbigniew Juroszek are valued proportionally at PLN 2.72 billion. The tender offer to buy the shares is expected to formally take place in mid-July.

Entain is an example of a huge gambling group operating worldwide, which with its size allows it to grow further only by acquisition. Acquiring a majority of shares in STS will allow Entain to strengthen its position in this part of Europe, but it is doubtful if the STS brand will be used for overseas expansion. Entain can buy itself any gambling brand in the world without waiting to formalize and slowly build a new one.

Mateusz Juroszek, along with his father, also could not give the company away to any buyer. Transactions of this type will already become a permanent part of Polish business history, and signing an agreement with an entity like Entain is a very big ennoblement and an assurance that the business will be professionally continued.

Huge success of the owners

Leaving aside many external factors, the accomplishment of STS’s owners can be described as a business masterstroke. The company was developed in a very difficult business and legal environment and can be considered to have reached the total maximum.

At the company’s top moment (just after covid began), STS had almost 50% market share. This was mainly due to the freezing of major sports games, as well as the possibility of making bets on simulated card games (Betgames) available. There are only few examples, in any market in the world, of one company having such a large market share over the long-term perspective.

For STS this was possibly the last moment to fully redeem the business it had worked for so many years, and during this time, overcame many difficulties. The market is growing, but so are the other companies that are present in the market. Each successive year is possibly pushing further limits on how long and how much can be squeezed out of this business while limiting costs, keeping an eye on which, in the bookmaking business, is crucial.

The only way to further leapfrog the business would be to introduce an online casino for private entities in Poland, but this attempt by Mateusz Juroszek failed. Continuing to hope for change could prove too risky and not worth the sacrifice of bracketing the entire gambling business over the past several years.

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