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Exclusive: FanDuel Denies Interest in Buying The Athletic

In response to a Monday report, parent company CEO Peter Jackson refuted the suggestion of a potential bid in a company earnings call, Boardroom has learned.

During a Tuesday earnings call from Flutter Inc., FanDuel’s parent company, CEO Peter Jackson flatly denied any interest in purchasing The Athletic, Boardroom has learned. This comes in response to a report originally published Monday by The Information that claimed the sports betting giant was “among a number of companies that have submitted bids” to buy the digital media network.

After reviewing an audio recording of the earnings call, FanDuel Director of Publicity Kevin Hennessy relayed Jackson’s reaction to the report to Boardroom:

“That is not something that we are bidding for,” the CEO said. “I mean, that’s a private equity firm who’s trying to get some interest in an asset they’re selling.”

The Information’s report also claimed that FanDuel competitor DraftKings was on the list of bidders for the online publication backed by Courtside Ventures, Powerhouse Capital, and Founders Fund. The Athletic is reportedly seeking a valuation of at least $750 million as it looks for a buyer for its coverage of North American sports and soccer coverage in the UK and other European countries.

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When Jackson was asked to clarify on the earnings call whether this meant that FanDuel rather than Flutter may be interested, he made sure to set the record straight. As Hennessy relayed to Boardroom via the audio recording:

“Rest assured, we speak on behalf of FanDuel,” Jackson said. “They are part of Flutter. None of our brands, none of us, none of the companies.”

The Athletic has been looking for a seller for at least several months now, hiring investment firm LionTree to help after prospective deals with Axios via SPAC and The New York Times via formal acquisition failed to materialize.

Flutter said its quarterly revenue rose 12% year over year to $1.97 billion, with US revenue up 85% to $386 billion, though those numbers will cause a hit to expected earnings. As of this writing, Flutter Entertainment stock is down more than 7% on Tuesday to $88.70 due to a dip in UK and Ireland revenue from Flutter-owned properties Paddy Power and Betfair.