Playtech on Thursday confirmed it has received a takeover approach from a group led by former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan, which becomes the third interested party in acquiring the UK-based gambling software provider since an initial takeover agreement with Aristocrat announced last month.
The new approach by JKO Play Ltd follows one from Playtech’s No.2 shareholder Gopher Investments, which is reportedly exploring a £3B ($4B) offer, and the previous 2.1 billion pound ($2.8 billion) proposal by Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure, which Playtech’s board has recommended to shareholders.
According to Playtech's statement Thursday, JKO has indicated the UK provider that it was in talks with New York-based investment firm Centerbridge Partners LP and other parties to explore funding for a possible bid. Discussions with JKO were at an early stage and there was no certainty that they would result in an offer, it added.
JKO is controlled by Jordan and Keith O’Loughlin, a former executive at U.S. slot machine maker Scientific Games. In a separate statement Thursday, it confirmed it was evaluating making a competing offer to buy Playtech. The news was first reported by Sky News, which said Jordan’s consortium was working on a more than 3-billion-pound possible bid for Playtech. Jordan, a former racing driver himself, owned an eponymous Formula One team until 2005 that included drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher, Reuters reports.
In addition, Aristocrat said in a statement it continued to work together with Playtech to complete the proposed acquisition, adding that the regulatory approval process was on track "with the timetable previously announced and Aristocrat is focussed on progressing this quickly."
"Aristocrat's long term engagement with regulators across key gaming jurisdictions, together with our strong financial fundamentals, deep customer relationships and established presence in global gaming markets, positions us to complete the transaction as planned in the second quarter of calendar year 2022," the statement continued. "Aristocrat has committed certain funds to fund the recommended acquisition with financing facilities in place and has completed an equity raise of A$1.3 billion with strong take-up from Aristocrat shareholders."
"On 12 November 2021 Playtech published the scheme document convening the relevant shareholder meetings to approve the acquisition on 12 January 2022. Aristocrat urges Playtech shareholders to vote in favour of the recommended acquisition by Aristocrat at these meetings."
The rush of interest in Playtech comes during a year of increased deal-making in the industry as the United States opens up to sports betting and potential bidders assess UK gambling expertise.