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Playtech explores £2bn break-up as crunch vote looms on Aristocrat deal

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Playtech is drawing up contingency plans to dismantle and sell its operations if a £2.7bn takeover by an Australian rival is blocked by a collection of Asian-based shareholders.

Sky News has learnt that Playtech’s directors and its investment banking advisers are discussing a full break-up of the London-listed gaming software company, which has a market value of just under £1.9bn.

A break-up, which could lead to the separate disposals of Playtech’s business-to-business division and Italian consumer arm Snaitech, would only be triggered if a £2.1bn takeover of the group by Aristocrat collapses, according to insiders.

Eddie Jordan on the phone during Ladies Day of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 15, 2017
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A bid led by Eddie Jordan was abandoned

Playtech claims to be the world’s largest supplier of online gaming and sports betting software.

Including debt, the company has an enterprise value of more than £2.5bn.

Directors led by chairman Brian Mattingley are said to be concerned that a group of Asian investors which own roughly a quarter of Playtech’s stock could vote in concert to prevent the Aristocrat deal going through.

As a result, the board and its advisers at Wells Fargo, Jefferies and Goodbody have started making plans to auction its operations in case next week’s vote – which requires the approval of 75% of voting shareholders – fails.

Those preparations gained momentum last week when another bid led by the former Formula One team-owner Eddie Jordan was abandoned, ostensibly because of concerns about the intentions of the Asian shareholders.

Sky News revealed in December that both Aristocrat and Playtech had contacted the Takeover Panel to seek a determination that the Asian shareholders, who include the owner of Birmingham City Football Club, are acting as a concert party.

Aristocrat agreed to pay 680p-a-share for Playtech, although the shares were languishing well below that level at Tuesday’s close of trading.

A Playtech spokeswoman said: “The board reiterates its recommendation that shareholders vote in favour of the offer from Aristocrat.

“Whilst Playtech has made significant strategic and operational progress and is in a strong position for the future, Aristocrat’s proposal provides an attractive opportunity for shareholders to accelerate the delivery of Playtech’s longer-term value.”

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