Playtech Plans £800 Million Shopping Spree, with Amaya and OpenBet in its Sights
Posted on: February 23, 2016, 04:52h.
Last updated on: June 22, 2016, 04:43h.
Online gaming giant Playtech is sitting on a £800 million ($1.12 billion) war chest and it wants to go shopping. Following several near misses last year, the software provider is redoubling its efforts to land a major acquisition, and PokerStars’ parent Amaya, says the UK’s Sunday Times, is high on its list.
Playtech is known to be in the hunt for fellow software company OpenBet in a deal worth some £250 million ($351 million), and in competition with fellow suitors NYX Gaming, whose bid is backed financially by William Hill.
OpenBet is to sports betting what Playtech is to online casinos, namely, far and away the market-leading platform provider to its sector. A combination of the two companies would be an irresistible force at a time when consolidation and scale are the watchwords of the industry.
Both Deals a Longshot
But in an interview with Gambling Insider this week, Warwick Bartlett, CEO of Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, said he thought that both deals were unlikely propositions.
“I would be surprised if Playtech acquired either OpenBet or Amaya,” he said. “Playtech has its own sports-betting software and has an integrated common-wallet strategy across all its products so there is a good chance they will pick up business over time when contracts elapse.”
Bartlett also emphasized that Playtech wants to diversify out of online gaming into financial services, which would be a far more logical consolidation plan.
In April 2015, Playtech acquired TradeFX, a trading platform and payment services provider, for €208 million ($230 million). It also attempted to acquire trading platform Plus500 for £460 million ($644.7 million) and Forex broker Ava Trade for £105 million ($147 million), although both deals fell through.
Playtech was also named as an early suitor of bwin.party, which was eventually sold to GVC Holdings for $1.6 billion.
Designs on Amaya
Amaya, which is currently the subject of a takeover by its own CEO David Baazov, who wants to take the company private, could represent value to Playtech, said Bartlett, although he had several reservations.
“Amaya has halved in value since being acquired from the founders,” said Bartlett. “Poker is in decline, but Amaya has a huge database of gamblers that could be useful to Playtech. However, the switch from software provider to operator is no easy task when so much resource, time and effort is used to generate software products.”
According to the Times, Playtech has about £600 million of available cash, plus easy access to £200 million, which would be raised by selling its shares in Ladbrokes and Plus500.
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