NEW YORK CITY -- Gaming machines manufacturer WMS Industries Inc. is being swallowed up by its larger rival Scientific Games Corp. for $1.5 billion in cash and debt. The two companies announced on Jan. 31 that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Scientific Games would acquire WMS for $26 in cash per common share, or approximately $1.5 billion. The boards of both firms approved the transaction.
Scientific Games is a leader in the supply of lottery instant tickets, lottery and video gaming systems and server-based gaming. WMS is a leading supplier of gaming machines and interactive gaming content.
The acquisition of WMS will enable Scientific Games to offer a complete portfolio of lottery and gaming products and services to both new and existing customers around the world, said chairman and chief executive A. Lorne Weil.
WMS has a long history as a leading coin-op amusement machine manufacturer, but today its only connection with amusements is its line of video lottery terminals for the operator-run VLT sector in Illinois.
The predecessor of WMS, Williams Manufacturing Co., was founded in 1943 as a maker of pinball machines, a product the company continued to produce for 56 years. Acquired in 1973 by Seeburg Corp., a jukebox manufacturer, Williams began building coin-op videogames and changed its name to Williams Electronics.
Renamed again as WMS Industries in 1987, the company went public. WMS acquired competing pinball and videogame maker Bally-Midway in 1988, spinning off the firm as a separate entity in 1998. WMS exited the videogame market that same year and closed its pinball division in 1999. WMS has been chiefly focused on making slot machines since 1994.