Gopher Investments to challenge Aristocrat with Playtech bid

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Reports suggest that Hong Kong-based Gopher Investments, a minority stakeholder in Playtech, is working on an offer to acquire the business, despite Playtech having already agreed terms on a £2.7bn bid from Aristocrat last month.

Gopher – which is already in the process of acquiring Playtech’s Finalto finance division in a deal worth $250m – holds a stake of almost 5% in the whole business, making it Playtech’s second-biggest shareholder.

It has been revealed that the investor made a preliminary approach to Playtech on 21 October, seeking access to due diligence information with a view to making an offer.

According to Sky News, which released the story on Sunday 7 November, sources said that Gopher’s deliberations were not guaranteed to lead to a formal offer, but that it was looking seriously at the option.

The investor is expected to issue a statement today confirming its interest in bidding for the whole Playtech business.

Playtech’s share price jumped from £7.06 to £7.35 this morning following the announcement, having already rallied from £4.29 to £6.79 in October following the announcement of Aristocrat’s £2.7bn bid for the business.

Aristocrat’s offer valued the business at £6.80 per share – but a series of irrevocable undertakings from Playtech shareholders would be allowed to lapse in the face of any rival bidder offering a price at least 10% higher.

This suggests Gopher would need to bid at least £7.48 per share in order to secure a board recommendation.

The Aristocrat deal is also dependent upon the Finalto sale to Gopher being completed.

It is not yet clear how Gopher would structure an offer for the whole Playtech business, considering it has yet to complete its purchase of Finalto, which was originally expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.

In a statement released today, Aristocrat said: “Aristocrat’s long-term engagement with regulators across key gaming jurisdictions, together with strong financial fundamentals, deep customer relationships and established presence in global gaming markets, positions Aristocrat to complete the transaction as planned in the second quarter of calendar year 2022.”

“Aristocrat believes that this will provide certain value to Playtech shareholders, while the combined group will also provide greater opportunities to Playtech employees.”

It went on to say the UK Takeover Panel will soon announce the deadline by which Gopher must clarify its intentions in relation to Playtech, according to the UK Takeover Code, and that once Playtech has published the Scheme Document relating to Aristocrat’s acquisition of the business, it “urges” shareholders to vote in favour of the deal.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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