PartyGaming sets sights on FTSE 100

PartyGaming, an online gaming company that operates internet sites such as PartyPoker, Starluck Casino and PartyBingo, was floated on the London Stock Exchange early last week.

According to the exchange, the company opened its conditional dealings with a total market capitalisation of 4.64bn, making it the largest online gaming stock currently listed on the exchange. Party-Gaming began trading last week at an offer price of 116p per existing ordinary share for institutional investors. The stock began trading unconditionally late last week.

Shares in PartyGaming were trading at about 146p last Friday, according to the LSE – 21% higher than the initial offer price.

Chris Handley, an investment manager at State Street Global Advisors, says that the group would expect PartyGaming to join the FTSE 100 index after the next review of the index in September. State Street currently manages UK index tracker funds for groups such as Gartmore and M&G.

Eleanor de Freitas, the head of index strategy at Barclays Global Investors, adds that while the market capitalisation of PartyGaming is high, only 20% of the company is available for public investment. She adds that this figure of 1.2bn would result in PartyGaming constituting a possible eight to 10 basis points of the FTSE, a relatively low number.

Handley agrees, add-ing that the stock will probably be a fairly small constituent of the FTSE 100, as the 781 million shares sold at its initial public offering are only a portion of PartyGaming’s four billion total shares.

“The total capitalisation numbers are very significant, but when you make the adjustment into the free float space, the numbers drop dramatically, it looks more like a mid-cap stock when you look at the free float numbers,” says de Freitas.

FTSE will consider adding the stock to the blue-chip index based on its market capitalisation, but it will be adjusted for the value of its free float. The FTSE Europe, Middle East and Africa Regional Committee is scheduled to meet to review the index series on September 7.