Less than 55% of votes

Playtech shareholders reject Aristocrat's takeover offer; 2nd-largest investor rejoins the race

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Playtech said on Thursday that its second-largest shareholder, Gopher Investments, could make another takeover approach via an affiliate after Aristocrat's proposed 2.1 billion pound ($2.84 billion) buyout offer was rejected on Wednesday.

Australian gaming provider Aristocrat needed approval from 75% of Playtech shareholders at Wednesday's meeting, but less than 55% of votes were cast in favour of the deal. "The emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with either ourselves or Playtech materially impacted the prospects for the success of our offer," Aristocrat CEO Trevor Croker had stated before the vote. He said 80% of the votes against the deal were from investors who bought their shares after it announced the takeover in October.

Croker said Aristocrat would look at other acquisitions to get involved in real money online casinos, as it was an “important plank in our growth strategy,” as reported by The Age.

UK-based gaming software developer Playtech said Thursday it was contacted by TTB Partners about a potential takeover. The firm is an affiliate of Hong Kong-based Gopher Investments, owner of 4.97% of the shares, which withdrew its own bid for Playtech in November and the following month acquired only the financial arm of the company, Finalto. The decision to step back triggered a six-month restriction period, in accordance with UK rules. Playtech said in Thursday’s statement this restriction could be lifted on the consent of its board, and that it would be willing to consider a possible offer from TTB. There’s no guarantee an offer will be made, according to the statement, and any new offer would likely be in cash.

Following Aristocrat's October deal, Playtech drew interest from suitors including JKO Play consortium, led by former Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan. In January Playtech delayed its shareholder vote on Aristocrat's takeover proposal from its previously scheduled January 12 date to February 2, in order to have more time to consider this proposal.


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