Playtech investors set to vote against Aristocrat’s £2.1bn takeover

Playtech investors set to vote against proposed £2.1bn takeover deal by Australian gaming giant Aristocrat Leisure

  • Playtech said proxy votes received suggested the deal could fall through
  • The FTSE 250-listed group said it was ‘actively considering’ other deal options
  • The aristocrat said he was “disappointed” that the offer appears to be about to expire

Shareholders of British gaming software maker Playtech appear set to vote against the group’s proposed £2.1 billion takeover by Australian firm Aristocrat Leisure.

In a stock market statement ahead of Wednesday’s final vote, Playtech said that, based on proxy votes received to date, the minimum 75% threshold needed to approve the deal would not be met.

If so after today’s vote count, Aristocrat’s acquisition of Playtech will not proceed.

Off the cards: Playtech shareholders appear set to vote against Aristocrat Leisure’s proposed £2.1bn takeover of the group

Reports suggest shareholder votes could fail due to opposition from an array of Asia-based investors, who own around 28% of the group’s shares.

Shares of Playtech listed on the FTSE 250 rose early in the morning and is currently up 1.65% or 9.50p to 586.50p.

Playtech said details of the voting results would be announced as soon as they are available in final form after today’s meetings.

The company added that it had “actively considered” its options in the event that shareholders vote against the proposed takeover deal.

It said it had “evaluated attractive merger and acquisition proposals” it had received from third parties regarding its B2B and B2C businesses.

Playtech said: “Shareholders are advised that no definitive agreement has been reached and negotiations are ongoing and there is no certainty that a definitive agreement will be reached.”

Mor Weizer, Managing Director of Playtech, said, “Playtech remains in a strong position and continues to perform very well in its core B2B and B2C businesses.

Disagree: Last month ex-Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan floated a potential bid on Playtech

Disagree: Last month ex-Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan floated a potential bid on Playtech

“These advancements reflect the quality of our technology and products as well as the hard work and commitment of our talented team.

“We remain confident in our long-term growth prospects and, in particular, our ability to benefit from the structured deals (including Caliente) that are already giving Playtech access to newly opened gaming markets.”

Brian Mattingley, President of Playtech, added: “This process has highlighted the fundamental premium value of Playtech’s business.

‘Playtech is the leading technology company in the gaming industry, with unparalleled quality and range of products.

“Snai is the number one sports brand for retail and online betting in the Italian market. In the event that the Aristocrat Offer does not materialize, the Board of Directors is committed to exploring options to maximize value for all shareholders and accelerate the validation of that value.

Aristocrat chief executive and managing director Trevor Croker said: “We are disappointed that our recommended offer to acquire Playtech plc is set to expire. Despite extensive due diligence on Aristocrat’s part, developments since the announcement of our offer have been highly unusual and largely beyond Aristocrat’s control.

“In particular, the emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with ourselves or Playtech had a material impact on the prospects for the success of our bid, which had been recommended by the board of directors of Playtech plc.

“The long-term interests of our shareholders are the absolute focus of M&A concerns at Aristocrat. We will always take a highly disciplined and strategic approach to our investment choices, consistent with our client-centric philosophy.

The company also said it expects to complete the sale of its Finalto software business in the second quarter, after receiving final regulatory clearances.

Last month, former Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan floated a potential bid for Playtech over fears a group of Asian investors who recently bought the company could act to block the deal.

Mr Jordan’s acquisition vehicle, JKO PLAY, was expected to offer an offer of 750p per Playtech share.