Feds Clear Purchase of Anchor Gaming

Federal regulators have cleared the purchase of Anchor Gaming, the parent company of United Tote, by gambling equipment giant International Game Technology (IGT). The deal is valued at $1.4 billion.

IGT controls about 66% of the United States gambling equipment market, so the proposed purchase was expected to draw close scrutiny. If the deal closes, IGT will be left with four competitors. Still the Federal Trade Commission notified IGT and Anchor executives Friday that it had terminated the pre-closed waiting period required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act. The merger now awaits approval by both companies' shareholders, who are expected to vote Tuesday.

Under the deal, each Anchor Gaming shareholder will receive one share of IGT stock. IGT also will assume about $367 million in debt.

Shares for both companies have rebounded since losing about 40% of their stock value in the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Anchor fell from about $55 to $36.60 per share, while IGT fell from about $55 per share to $38.90.

Monday's announcement produced brisk trading for Anchor and IGT, which both set new 52-week highs. As of 2 p.m., Anchor Gaming was up $2.83 (4.4%) to $67.42. An estimated 582,200 shares of Anchor Gaming were traded compared with the companyês average daily volume of 378,818 shares. IGT was up $2.40 (3.7%) to $67.25. About 1.4 million shares of IGT had changed hands compared with its average daily volume of 1.3 million shares.