The saga that is the Evolution Gaming acquisition of a stuttering software giant NetEnt has taken a dramatic turn as Evolution got regulatory approval for the sale earlier in November, and on 2 December 2020 it was reported that Evolution is shutting down NetEnt live as well as firing 300-500 workers employed at NetEnt Live in Malta.
Last Tuesday, after the acquisition has been made official, NetEnt’s Malta employees were sent home and instructed to wait. A spokesman for Evolution reportedly said that the Qormi studio will be permanently shut down, leaving all workers at risk of redundancy.
There is no doubt that Evolution is trying to optimize the expenses of the Swedish company, as the acquisition wouldn’t have happened at all had it not been for NetEnt’s financial stagnation, and at the same time this is a golden opportunity to poach top talent and add it to Evolution’s own workforce.
For some time it has become evident that NetEnt is in financial problems after not being able to please the shareholders by continuing the growth that saw them become the world’s largest and most popular slot game developer. Financial stagnation took its toll as online slot game release dates got further apart, and the company even attempted to enter the world of affiliation as they started displaying links to online casinos at their website netent.com.
Evolution made an initial offer to acquire NetEnt in June this year, for a total sum of $2.1 billion for 90% of the company’s shares. After the UK Competition and Markets Authority approved the deal in November, the merger got the necessary approvals to proceed.
NetEnt currently employs around 1,000 staff across the world, which means that the 300-500 layoffs in Malta represent from 30% to 50% of its total workforce.
Malta’s General Workers’ Union has declared an industrial dispute with NetEnt and Evolution Gaming Group after the NetEnt takeover left hundreds jobless. As the basis for the dispute, the union argues that the dispute is necessary as the companies failed to consult them prior to the redundancies. A telephone hotline has been established to help those that were left jobless in a second.
Meanwhile, Evolution Gaming increased its presence in the US market by entering Pennsylvania, which is the second state Evolution entered after entering New Jersey back in 2015.