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Gopher digs out of bidding for Playtech after Eddie Jordan approach

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Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan is preparing a £3bn approach for gambling software firm Playtech

Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan is preparing a £3bn approach for gambling software firm Playtech

Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan is preparing a £3bn approach for gambling software firm Playtech

Gopher Investments has pulled its takeover approach for London-listed gaming software maker Playtech in the wake of an Eddie Jordan-led £3bn (€3.56bn) approach.

Hong Kong-based Gopher owns a 4.97pc stake in Playtech already and is buying its Finalto financial trading division, a deal it expects to complete in the first half of next year.

However, Gopher confirmed on Friday that it does not intend to make an offer for Playtech.

That leaves the race to Australian gaming services firm Aristocrat Leisure, who’s £2.7bn bid has the support of the Playtech board, facing off against JKO Play, the consortium led by Mr Jordan and Irish digital gaming executive Keith O’Loughlin, with backing from US investor Centrebridge.

They have yet to announce an offer. 

Gopher has left the option to potentially re-enter the race, including if the offer on the table from Aristocrat falls down or if JKO makes a formal offer.

But its move suggests the Hong Kong firm is unwilling to enter an auction, and it stands to gain as a shareholder from a competitive sale process.

On Thursday, JKO Play confirmed that Mr Jordan had teamed up with former Boylesports Online CEO Mr O’Loughlin to spearhead an approach for Playtech.

Sky News, which first reported the news, said the Jordan consortium is lining up a bid of more than £3bn. That’s well ahead of an offer already on the table from Aristocrat Leisure which values the business at £2.7bn.

Playtech makes the software used by big online gaming companies, a sector undergoing rapid growth as a result of new technology and the liberalisation of the potentially vast US market.

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Its shares fell back somewhat on Friday, to close at 741pence each, versus Thursday’s 731 pence close. 

It’s still well up on Aristocrat’s agreed 680-pence-per-share offer and is on where the stock traded before news of the Jordan approach. 

A racing legend, Mr Jordan made his initial fortune as owner of Formula One’s Team Jordan which he sold in 2005 for a reported €75m. His partner Mr O’Loughlin is a veteran of the gaming industry, having worked with US giant Scientific Games, Ladbrokes Coral and, before that, at Boylesports.


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