PartyGaming founder rakes in £50m with sale of half his stake

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One of the founders of PartyGaming has hit the jackpot with a £50m windfall after cashing in 160 million shares yesterday. Vikrant Bhargava, the group's former marketing director, sold just over half of his remaining 7 per cent stake in the company.

UBS placed the shares at 30.5p a share - a 3.25p discount to Wednesday's closing price - and demand was said to be so great the orders were filled five minutes before trading began.

Although this transaction will have to be declared within three days, the City speculated that with this sale, Mr Bhargava's stake would fall below the 3 per cent level at which share movements have to be declared.

Shares in PartyGaming, the world's biggest internet poker company, slumped 4 per cent following the news to end the day 1.5p down at 32.25p.

The sale comes two weeks after PartyGaming awarded its key executives £40m in cash bonuses and options and ditched share performance targets.

Shares in the company slumped 60 per cent in the wake of the crackdown on internet gambling in the US, where PartyGaming used to do most of its business. It has since focused on developing its European and emerging markets.

Mr Bhargava, 34, an electrical engineer from Rajasthan, set up PartyGaming with Anurag Dikshit, a former fellow student from the Indian Institute of Technology, who still owns 29 per cent of the company. The other two founders, Ruth Parasol, who made her first fortune in internet porn, and her husband Russ DeLeon, each retain a 15 per cent stake. None of the four are now involved with the day-to day running of the business.