Chinese scupper takes control of British gambling champion for £2.7billion

Chinese investors blocked a takeover of the British company that pioneered much of the world’s online gambling technology.

The £2.7 billion acquisition of Playtech, the FTSE 250 group founded by Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, collapsed on Wednesday after a bloc of shareholders opposed the deal.

The suitor of Playtech, Australian slot machine operator Aristocrat, has withdrawn its bid and is now considering its options.

Asian investors, including former Playtech chief executive Tom Hall, as well as Birmingham City owner Paul Suen, billionaire heiress Karen Lo, former Wigan Athletic owner and professional poker star Stanley Choi, opposed Aristocrat’s takeover attempt.

Collectively, they own about 28% of Playtech shares. In total, some 45% of investors opposed the move, Playtech said.

Trevor Croker, Managing Director of Aristocrat, said: “The emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with ourselves or with Playtech had a material impact. on the prospects of success of our offer.”

Meanwhile, sources close to Playtech said investors did not respond to repeated requests to sound them out on their views on the takeover.

Aristocrate is now perceived as reluctant to return to the negotiating table knowing that the group of shareholders will push back his approach a second time.

The collapse of the Aristocrat deal marks the latest twist in a tumultuous few months for Playtech.