The board has pushed back the deadline to give more time for a possible counter bid from JKO Play Ltd, a consortium led by former Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan, and Keith O’Loughlin, a former executive at Scientific Games. They entered the race in November, and have asked for more time to work on a potential offer. They previously had a January 5 deadline, and now the UK’s Takeover Panel gave them until January 26 to make a firm offer or walk away. Playtech said talks were “progressing”.
Playtech agreed in October to a £2.70B ($3.65B) takeover offer from Aristocrat, an Australian gambling machine manufacturer. In November, Playtech's second-largest shareholder, Gopher Investments, walked away from a potential three-way takeover battle for the UK gambling software developer, claiming it was committed to a separate deal to acquire only the financial arm of the company, Finalto, which happened early December.
Aristocrat said Wednesday its bid “remains the only firm offer” and “provides attractive value in cash and enhanced regulatory and financial certainty for Playtech shareholders,” Evening Standard reports. JKO “have already had a substantial amount of time to make an alternative proposal for Playtech,” Aristocrat said. “The decision to further delay the relevant shareholder meetings extends the period of uncertainty for all Playtech stakeholders.”
A potential counter bid has been complicated by deal talks in the US involving a company Playtech is invested in. Playtech effectively owns 49% of Mexico’s Caliente Interactive, which is reportedly in talks to list on the Nasdaq in a SPAC deal. In the absence of a firm counter offer, the board of Playtech on Wednesday said they “continue to recommend unanimously that Playtech shareholders vote in favour of the Aristocrat offer.” The regulatory approvals process is “well on track” and it is “committed to completing the acquisition as quickly as possible”, it added.
Aristocrat is the only one of the two bidders to have gained regulatory approval to operate in the US, as businesses seek to take advantage of the legalization of sports betting and online gaming in more states including Michigan.