The former F1 team principal and broadcaster Eddie Jordan is reportedly making a surprise play to buy Playtech.
The 73-year-old is part of a consortium thought to be eyeing a bid for the casino software firm, who have already received rival offers from Aristocrat Gaming and private equity outfit Gopher Investments.
While little is known of Jordan’s personal interest in the casino sector, his partner in the JKO Play group is Keith O’Loughlin, who once headed the sports betting division at Scientific Games.
While details of a formal bid are thin on the ground, reports online reveal that the firm has ‘received a preliminary approach from JKO Play seeking access to certain due diligence information, in order to explore terms on which an offer for all of the issued and to be issued share capital of Playtech might be made.’
Sky News, meanwhile, has said that JKO Play’s offer could top £3 billion, and that the offer would be made up partly of cash and partly on contingent value rights (CVR).
Reports confirm that JKO Play is looking to link up with an equity partner to finance their bid, with the US firm Centerbridge thought to be one option on the table.
Competition Heating Up
Playtech has quickly become one of the most sought-after enterprises in the online casino gaming sector, and their shareholders already have one formal bid and another expression of interest to consider.
Aristocrat, the Australian firm best known for making physical slot machines, has tabled a £2.7 billion takeover bid that has secured approval from the Playtech board, who have advised shareholders to accept the terms.
The Aussies are now seeking regulatory approval for the deal, and that a financing agreement was already in place to complete the acquisition. It’s thought that Aristocrat shareholders have raised £700 million of the necessary capital themselves.
The contest for Playtech is far from over however, with the irrevocable undertakings Aristocrat has secured from the software firm rendered void if a bid of 10% or higher on their agreed price is made by a rival suitor.
And there could well be two of those. Gopher Investments, who are already a considerable shareholder in the firm, are thought to be considering a concrete bid having already made an informal expression of interest.
Gopher acquired the financial division of Playtech, Finalto, earlier in 2021 for £200 million, and they have reportedly been working alongside investment bankers from Rothschild on the details of a rival bid to Aristocrat’s.
And now, powering through the chicane, is Jordan and his JKO Play outfit. Like Gopher Investments, they are yet to make a formal bid, but as we know if they table an offer of 10% or higher than Aristocrat’s then they would take pole position in the race.
As if life wasn’t already hectic enough at Playtech HQ, they are also embroiled in a separate round of talks with the Mexican casino operator Caliente. They are plotting a joint venture that would see a Spac (special purpose acquisition company) agreement signed via a public merger. That would enable Playtech to make a concerted move into the Central American market.