Playtech shareholders to vote on Gopher’s Finalto bid in December

abdelaziz Fathi

Playtech, the London-listed gambling software developer, said its shareholders will convene on December 1 to vote on a bid from Gopher Investments to buy the company’s financial trading division Finalto.

On August 18, Playtech’s general meeting rebuffed a proposed $210 million to sell Finalto to a consortium led by Israel’s Barinboim Group. Nearly 70% of votes cast were against the transaction as shareholders argued the offer undervalues the business.

This has forced Playtech’s board to go back and engage with Gopher Investments, which owns a 5% stake in the firm founded by Teddy Sagi, after it has rejected its initial offer. A month later, Playtech agreed to sell its Finalto brand to Gopher Investments, which confirmed its $250 million bid to acquire the supplier’s financial trading division.

Following a months-long battle, Playtech’s board said it recommends unanimously in favour of the acquisition. The FTSE 250-listed group didn’t change its recommendation, particularly as it didn’t receive interest in Finalto from other potential acquiring parties. In order for the acquisition to go through, the deal will have to be approved by at least 75% of Playtech’s shareholders.

Elsewhere, Playtech will seek shareholder approval on January 12 to proceed with its proposed sale to the Australian slot-machine maker Aristocrat Leisure. The latter said the deal would unlock opportunities in the fast-growing online real money gaming segment as they continue to open up, particularly in North America. The company’s CEO also referred to taking advantage of the de-regulating betting and gaming market in the United States.

Playtech has scheduled its general meeting that date in order to allow sufficient time for Gopher Investments to clarify its position over the Aristocrat’s $2.89 billion bid. Playtech’s second-biggest investor has offered a $4.0 billion takeover bid for the world’s largest online gaming software supplier.

Separately, Playtech said Citibank will join other lenders that would finance Aristocrat’s possible buyout, which would be made through its subsidiary Bidco. The Australian company said it would fund the deal with a combination of existing cash and new debt alongside equity raising of nearly $960 million.

“Bidco also announces that the initial lenders under the Commitment Letter have transferred a portion of their commitments thereunder to Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Citibank, N.A., Citicorp USA, Inc., Citicorp North America, Inc. and/or any of their affiliates (“Citi”) and Citi will act as a joint lead arranger and bookrunner for the Takeout Term Loan Facility pursuant to an amended and restated commitment letter,” Playtech’s statement further reads.

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