The Playtech acquisition saga looks set to continue a while longer after the supplier extended the deadline by which TTB Partners must lodge a formal offer.

TTB Partners, a Hong Kong-based investment consortium, was released from Takeover Code rules preventing it from putting in an offer for Playtech on 20 May.

The group was given an original deadline of 5pm today (17 June) to either announce its firm intention to make an offer for the business, or to declare that it does not intend to put in a bid.

However, the supplier announced this morning that it has extended the deadline for TTB to make an offer until 5pm on 15 July, following a request to the UK’s Panel on Takeovers and Mergers from an independent committee formed of Playtech board members.

Playtech said the extension was requested because discussions with TTB are still ongoing, and “progress continues to be made.”

“At present, the Independent Committee believes allowing additional time for discussions to further develop is in the best interests of the company’s shareholders and other stakeholders,” it added.

Following the announcement, Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones reiterated an 800p target price for Playtech shares and told investors: “We take today’s announcement of an extension as an encouraging sign that there may yet be an acceptable bid.”

He added: “A takeover is not the only option open to Playtech to release value, and we reiterate our Buy recommendation and 800p target price.”

Peel Hunt: “We take today’s announcement of an extension as an encouraging sign that there may yet be an acceptable bid.”

Earlier this week, Playtech announced it had received all necessary regulatory approvals for the all-cash, $250m sale of its Finalto financial trading division to Gopher Investments.

That deal is now expected to complete on 30 June, with Playtech describing the transaction as a significant step in its strategy to simplify the group and focus on its technology-led gaming offering.

A successful bid from TTB Partners could see current Playtech CEO Mor Weizer and former CEO Tom Hall secure a significant stake in the business, after it was confirmed in February that the pair had approached the investor group to explore the possibility of collaborating on an offer.

Following that revelation, Playtech’s board of directors formed an independent committee excluding Weizer, to consider all matters relating to any possible acquisition offer from TTB.

Playtech said the new bid deadline of 15 July may still be extended further, but only given the consent of the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers.

Playtech CEO Mor Weizer will explore participating in a bid with Hong Kong-based investment fund TTB Partners to take control of the London-listed supplier.

Earlier this month, Playtech announced it had released TTB from Takeover Code restrictions which would otherwise prevent the fund from making an offer for the company.

The fund was previously banned from putting forward an offer under the Code, because it had advised Gopher Investments on an earlier bid for Playtech last year.

But following the collapse of Aristocrat’s 680p per share offer – which had been unanimously recommended by Playtech’s board of directors – TTB was free to make an offer for Playtech on behalf of an investor group.

While no formal proposal has been made, Playtech said any forthcoming offer was likely to  be made in cash.

Now, both Weizer and former Playtech director and CEO Tom Hall are confirmed to have approached TTB in order to explore the possibility of participating and collaborating in a future offer.

As a result, the supplier’s board will now form an independent committee consisting of all of its directors, excluding Weizer, to consider all matters relating to any possible offer from TTB and any other M&A proposals it receives.

Playtech was clear in pointing out that this is not an announcement of a firm offer, and that there can be no certainty as to whether Weizer or Hall will participate in the TTB investor group, or that a formal offer will materialise.

TTB was already in the driving seat to acquire Playtech and now looks odds on considering its relationship with the current CEO.

In January, The Times reported that Hall had been acting as a conduit for a group of Asian investors said to be seeking to block Aristocrat’s takeover.

At Playtech’s general meeting in early February, shareholder votes in favour of the Aristocrat deal fell well short of the 75% approval rate required by Isle of Man law, with just 56% in favour.

In a note to investors, Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones said: “On balance this is positive; the most knowledgeable participant in the bid process [Weizer] sees a reasonable prospect of TTB’s possible offer being accepted by shareholders.

“On the other hand, a competing bid seems less likely since any competing bidder would struggle to become comparably well-informed about Playtech and, when evaluating a possible offer from TTB, shareholders would have to consider the valuation implications of losing the CEO post a failed bid,” he added.