Former employees and founders of online sports betting company FanDuel are suing Shamrock Capital Advisors and KKR & Co. alleging they colluded to undervalue the company’s shares before a merger with Paddy Power Betfair in 2018.
The plaintiffs include more than 100 former employees, cofounder and former chief executive officer Nigel Eccles, and cofounders Lesley Eccles, Tom Griffiths, and Chris Stafford. The group alleges that the private equity companies and investors selected a price for the company in its merger with Paddy Power that would not exceed $559 million.
Under the terms of their investment, the private equity firms and late-stage investors were entitled to the first $559 million of proceeds from a takeover, while common shareholders were entitled to everything above that amount, including a 40% share of the newly created FanDuel Group.
“Put simply these investors and the board cheated FanDuel employees to give themselves a massive payday,” Nigel Eccles said. “They failed to ask for an independent valuation, failed to hold a shareholder vote, and then hid documents from employees and other investors to cover up their misdeeds. Their self-dealing fails any basic fiduciary or moral standard.”
The Paddy Power merger reportedly valued FanDuel at $465 million. The suit says FanDuel was valued at $1.2 billion before a proposed merger with rival DraftKings fell through in 2017.
The plaintiffs allege that the private equity firms kept the valuation down to keep full ownership of the 40% stake in FanDuel Group.
“KKR and Shamrock stood by and supported the company during difficult times and we are confident that the facts will demonstrate that the allegations in this lawsuit are completely baseless,” Shamrock Capital Advisors and KKR & Co said.
A previous lawsuit filed in Scotland by the owners of the company was not successful.