Astra Games of the UK has purchased Bell-Fruit Games, Gamestec, RLMS Sales and Mazooma Interactive Gaming from the Danoptra Group.

Astra, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Austrian Gaming Industries, part of the Novomatic Group, confirmed the purchase following clearance from the Office of Fair Trading.

The conclusion of this transaction, which began with initial discussions back in 2009, now creates an Astra UK Gaming Group that, based on 2011 figures, has a total turnover of £79.68m and employs a workforce of 1,042.

Each of the four acquired companies, being some of the most respected and iconic names in the UK gaming industry, will maintain their individual identities and will conduct themselves with their existing staff and in a ‘business as normal’ manner.

The Astra UK Gaming Group will be managed by a five-man board of directors. Zane Mersich, managing director of Astra Games since 2008, will become the Group’s CEO and will be joined by John Austin (managing director of Bell-Fruit Games), Chris Butler (managing director of Gamestec), Neil Paramore (CFO of Astra Games)) and Paul Terroni, who moves from Danoptra to take up the role of business development director within the new entity.

Now backed by the huge resources of the Novomatic Group, a technology committee covering all aspects of the Astra UK Gaming Group will be established. To be chaired by Astra’s game design director and board member Andy Dinning, this committee will be responsible for directing new innovations in both analogue and digital gaming products and creating an overall policy of strategic research and development across all companies within the group.

Zane Mersich said: “All of us involved in the process of bringing together Astra and Danoptra understand the importance, for the wider UK gaming industry as well as just the parties directly involved, of a deal that will now safeguard iconic industry names and the employment that they provide.

“We look forward now with great confidence and in the belief that the group of companies that we have created under the Astra banner will, from the outset, play a leading role in the development of the UK gaming industry.”

Dr Franz Wohlfahrt, CEO of Novomatic, added: "Following the take-over of Astra Games in 2004 and Empire Games in 2011 this major acquisition in the UK brings to our group a true domestic market in the gaming industry's home country. We are convinced that the synergies generated through the cooperation of the various companies will not only secure jobs but will also provide important impetus for our global growth as a group as well as for our business strategy that is traditionally based on the duality of business activities as a producer and as an operator."

Bell-Fruit Games’ managing director, John Austin, commented: “This is great news for BFG, its staff, customers and the industry it serves. Great news because being part of Novomatic, a globally leading group in the gaming machine market, provides us with the benefits of an owner who understand the issues around this particular market and is able to provide the investment we very much need to take us forward with new developments and emerging technologies, as well as offering synergy with their products and technologies.”

Gamestec’s managing director, Chris Butler, underlined the importance of the company’s new position within the Astra UK Gaming Group. He said: “Gamestec has had the benefit of a close working relationship with Astra and Novomatic for nearly two years now. The completion of the Astra deal is fantastic news for all the people at Gamestec. The massive improvements that we have been making can now progress at full speed and we can look forward to delivering the solutions that the UK industry really needs.”