TTB Moves for Playtech Amid Aristocrat Deal Collapse

Posted on: February 3, 2022, 05:57h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2022, 09:38h.

Hong Kong investment and advisory firm TT Bond Partners (TTB) is making a play for British casino software giant Playtech, according to sources in the City, London’s financial district, Sky News reports.

Playtech at the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) in 2019. A TBB bid for the online gaming giant is expected imminently. (Image: World Exhibition Stand Awards)

This comes less than 24 hours after a US$2.84 billion takeover bid by Australia’s Aristocrat Gaming was rejected by Playtech shareholders.

TTB is an affiliate of Gopher Investments, which is Playtech’s second-biggest shareholder, with a 4.97 percent stake. TTB advised on a takeover proposal for Playtech by Gopher in November. But Gopher ultimately pulled out of the race to focus on acquiring Playtech’s financial trading arm, Finalto, in a US$250 million deal.

UK financial rules prohibit a company and its affiliates from making a new offer within six months of withdrawing a bid. But that can be overturned with the blessing of the target company’s board.

TTB has submitted a request to make a fresh bid and the Playtech board has consented, according to Sky News sources. The Hong Kong firm is said to be “serious,” and an offer is expected in the coming days.

‘Concert Party’ Moves In

Yesterday, as it became clear his bid was destined to collapse, Aristocrat chief executive and managing director Trevor Croker blamed its failure on “the emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with either ourselves or Playtech.”

The bloc of Asia-based investors began buying up Playtech shares at a premium after Aristocrat submitted its formal offer. That’s until they collectively owned around 27 percent of the company, according to The Independent. Aristocrat needed the backing of at least 75 percent of Playtech shareholders to push the deal through but only received around 55 percent.

Croker concluded that the new investors had “materially impacted the prospects for the success of our offer, which had been recommended by the board of Playtech.”  

He said events since the announcement of the offer had been “highly unusual and largely beyond Aristocrat’s control.

Jordan Spooked

It’s unclear whether these investors are connected in any way to the anticipated TTB bid. But their presence was a factor in Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan’s decision to walk away from the race for Playtech.

Jordan had been expected to make a bid via his investment vehicle JKO Play. But according to The Financial Times, the Irishman was concerned that any offer would be blocked by the new shareholders.

In the wake of the collapsed Aristocrat deal, Playtech said Wednesday it would now explore splitting the business and would listen to separate offers for its consumer and B2B operations.