Britain’s Playtech gets takeover proposal from major investor Gopher

Businessman toy figure is placed on gambling chips in front of displayed Playtech logo in this illustration taken
Businessman toy figure is placed on gambling chips in front of displayed Playtech logo in this illustration taken, November 8, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

November 9, 2021

(Reuters) -Playtech is in talks with its second-biggest shareholder over a possible takeover offer, weeks after agreeing to a buyout from rival Aristocrat Leisure, sending the British online gambling software firm shares up 3% on Monday.

Hong Kong-based Gopher Investments, which holds a nearly 5% stake in Playtech through an affiliate TT Bond Partners, made a preliminary approach on Oct. 21 seeking access to some due diligence information to weigh a possible offer, London-listed Playtech said.

It said discussions with Gopher were at an early stage and did not disclose terms of the potential bid, which is likely to be worth roughly 3 billion pounds ($4.05 billion) according to Sky News https://bit.ly/3qgPKqL which first reported the development.

Gopher has become a prominent Playtech shareholder after the investment fund in September clinched a deal to buy the British company’s financial trading unit following a months-long battle with Playtech and an Israeli consortium.

That deal for the unit, Finalto, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022 as regulators now also decide on a deadline by which Gopher must either present a firm intention to bid for all of Playech or walk away.

Australian gambling machine maker Aristocrat, whose 2.1 billion pound offer for Playtech could face competition if Gopher decides to enter into a bidding war, defended its proposal and touted its market expertise.

“Aristocrat’s long-term engagement with regulators across key gaming jurisdictions, together with strong financial fundamentals … positions (it) to complete the transaction as planned in the second quarter of calendar year 2022,” the Sydney-listed company said on Monday.

Peel Hunt analysts retained a price target of 680 pence and a “hold” recommendation on Playtech, saying its investors have already anticipated an offer higher than Aristocrat’s.

Shares in Playtech were 2.4% higher at 725 pence by 0823 GMT. They had gained a little more than two-thirds of their value this year up to Friday’s closing price of 708 pence.

($1 = 0.7414 pounds)

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair and Ramakrishnan M.)