Playtech stands by Aristocrat deal as Gopher eyes bidding war

Playtech Plc has responded to media speculation regarding a counterbid that existing shareholder Gopher Investments will table to take control of the FTSE250 gambling technology group.

This Sunday, Sky News reported that Gopher a Hong Kong-based investment vehicle that maintains a 5% shareholding in Playtech will launch an expected £3 billion counteroffer, triggering a bidding war against ASX rival Aristocrat Leisure.

As it stands, Playtech governance has recommended Aristocrat’s £2.7 billion takeover bid to investors, a decision made prior to Gopher interest.

Responding to developments, Playtech issued a statement detailing that on 21 October, three days following the formal recommendation of Aristocrat’s deal – Gopher had made a ‘preliminary approach’ requesting for due diligence information to “explore a possible offer for all of the issued and to be issued share capital of Playtech”.

Playtech stands by its investor recommendation of Aristocrats 680p per share cash offer as Gopher interest remains “at an early stage and ongoing. As such, there can be no certainty that Gopher’s approach will result in an offer for the Company, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made”.

Advised by Rothschild-&-Co, Gopher is expected to state on Monday its initial approach for Playtech.

Aristocrat’s reaction will be monitored closely, as the ASX firm needs to fulfil several caveats to acquire Playtech, including securing the shareholder approval of the sale of Finalto.

The sale of Finalto, Playtech’s financial brokerage, is yet to be finalised as the subsidiary sees itself in a hotly disputed bidding war between Gopher and Tel Aviv private equity fund Barinboim Group.

Aristocrat confirmed that it had secured rights on an £865 million equity raising to secure its all-cash deal and clear Playtech existing debt notes of £600 million.

The deal recommendation saw Trevor Croker, Group CEO of Aristocrat, underlined deal makers intentions to create the dominant land-based and digital gaming B2B technology provider for tier-1 gambling groups operating across all markets.

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