Aristocrat strategy to remain unchanged following Playtech acquisition fall through

Aristocrat CEO and Managing Director, Trevor Croker, has detailed that the company’s ‘commitment to participate in the RNG sector’ as part of its wider strategy will not be altered, following news of the collapse of its acquisition of Playtech.

Issuing a statement this morning, Playtech anticipated that the minimum threshold of 75% of shareholders would not vote in favour of the takeover, despite the LSE-listed gambling software company’s board of directors encouraging a vote in favour of the $2.7 billion outright buyout for some time.

Playtech’s prediction is based on proxy votes ahead of the shareholder meeting scheduled later for today – the meeting, along with its court and general meeting, was initially scheduled for 5 January, in connection with the recommended cash acquisition, but was postponed to allow JKO Play more time to make an official offer. 

Croker remarked: “In particular, the emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with either ourselves or Playtech materially impacted the prospects for the success of our offer, which had been recommended by the board of Playtech.

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

“Aristocrat has entered into 2022 with excellent operational momentum, flexibility and resilience with continued strong product-led performance across gaming and Pixel United.”

The expected shareholder vote may come as a surprise to many, as Playtech’s board continually backed the Aristocrat acquisition despite JKO’s persistent interest – latter revealed that it would not pursue a takeover last month, leaving Aristocrat as the sole bidder – and the a potential breakup of its business units. 

 

In January, it was reported that Playtech’s boardroom were concerned that the firm’s Asian investors, who hold around 15% of the shares in the FTSE250 group, would vote against the acquisition. In response, the firm’s financial advisors drafted a contingency plan for the break-up and auction of its gambling software, B2B unit and Snaitech Italia betting business. 

Additionally, the sale of Playtech’s Finalto financial division is also scheduled to occur in the second quarter of this year, with the sell-off having been a key requirement of Aristocrat’s takeover offer.

By merging with Playtech, the Australian-listed gambling group intended to leverage its new subsidiary’s Snaitech division to ‘operate and innovate’ in Europe, whilst working to boost its revenues, expand its customer reach and provide material scale in online gaming.

“We look forward to providing further detail to shareholders at our upcoming AGM later this month,” Croker continued. “From a strategic perspective, Aristocrat’s commitment to participate in the online RMG segment will not change.

“In the future, online RMG capability will be one way we deliver new and connected experiences that leverage our world-leading content, and unlock additional value across Aristocrat’s portfolio while deepening customer engagement.

“Our focus now shifts to accelerating our plans for alternative online RMG scaling options, and continuing to execute our growth strategy, in a way that is consistent with our rigorous investment criteria, high regulatory standards and integrity. We look forward to sharing more details with shareholders as we move forward.”

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