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Full Tilt poker

Fears remain over Full Tilt jobs despite takeover 'deal'

The Groupe Bernard Tapie says it has provisionally agreed to buy the poker website – but will offer shareholdings to its users.

THE FRENCH GROUP which says it has reached a preliminary deal to acquire the poker website Full Tilt Poker – which employs approximately 600 staff in Dublin – has promised to repay all of the site’s out-of-pocket users.

The Groupe Bernard Tapie, a family-run investment vehicle, also says it wants to offer some of the site’s users – who are owed over $300m – an equity stake in the website, which is on the ropes after losing its gaming licence last week.

The company’s takeover – which is provisional and dependant on a number of factors, including a settlement in the legal proceedings currently being taken by the US Department of Defence – may still result in job losses, however.

The Irish Times said it understood that the business may still have to cut around 250 of its jobs in order to secure the takeover, which is seen as the only way to keep the website afloat.

One of the website’s two main subsidiaries, Pocket Kings – which offers IT services to the poker site – had warned of layoffs last month, when it said it needed to cut its costs.

There are conflicting reports of whether the Tapie group will cover the entirety of the $300m shortfall due to customers, whose cash deposits have been allegedly taken by the site’s former management and its star players.

It is variously reported that the site will cover the $300m itself, and that it will only put in a small chunk of this – offering indebted users a stakeholding in the company instead of a cash refund.

Bernard Tapie, the eponymous head of the investment group, has been prominent in French society for decades – and is currently at the centre of a mammoth legal case involving now-IMF head Christine Lagarde.

Tapie received a settlement of €285m from Credit Lyonnais – which was owned by the French State at the time – over the latter’s enforced sale of Adidas, which Tapie had controlled.

Reuters says Lagarde, who was then the finance minister in France, was accused of complicity in the misuse of public funds and of short-cutting the necessary legal procedures.

Read: Hundreds of Dublin jobs at risk as Full Tilt Poker loses licence >

Previously: Poker site is labelled a ‘global Ponzi scheme’ >