Sunday 18 March 2018

Playtech target shares down

ISME head Mark Fielding is known for his eccentric press releases
ISME head Mark Fielding is known for his eccentric press releases Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Punt has noticed that shares in online trading services firm Plus500, a takeover target of gambling giant Playtech, dropped by more than 5pc during the week.

Their shares closed at £3.54 on Friday, their lowest level since early June. Although not a huge drop, one reason investors may be somewhat spooked is that Playtech has found itself in the middle of a dispute with the Irish Central Bank.

The organisation is challenging Playtech's proposed $105m takeover bid for Dublin-based contracts-for-difference broker AvaTrade.

Both sides have kept tight-lipped on the exact nature of the dispute so far, although Playtech has said that it intends to challenge the decision.

Although the Ava Trade acquisition is not material for Playtech, the acquisition of Plus500 certainly is. Playtech announced in June that it is splashing out £460m to buy the London-headquartered firm, with the deal still awaiting regulatory approval from the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

Analysts have expressed concerns at the length of the time that the Plus500 deal, which was meant to be wrapped up by the end of September, is taking to close. Some have speculated that the Central Bank's intervention may influence the FCA's view on the Plus500 deal, although this is unlikely.

Either way, the Punt will monitor any developments with great interest.

ISME trolls English rugby

Sometimes the Punt thinks that Mark Fielding writes just for the Punt's own benefit.

The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association boss, is well-known for his often entertaining, often baffling press releases. Subject lines of emails from Fielding in the last week alone have ranged from 'High business costs must be addressed in Budget 2016' to 'My porridge was ruined this morning'.

So you can imagine the Punt's excitement when an email entitled 'England ready for World Cup quarter-finals' arrived.

As it transpired, Fielding was not confused as to who was advancing from their pool and had generously supplied a photo of the English side assembled shoulder-to-shoulder in full kit for a squad shot, with a television cleverly Photoshopped in front of the team with the aforementioned heading.

Fielding also said they are free to attend ISME's National Conference in November. The Punt is sure that the players will draw immeasurable comfort from that.

It's Ireland 1 Germany 0 again

Ireland's brand value has increased over the last year. Our nation brand is estimated at $287bn in 2015- up 15pc on last year, according to the world's most 100 valuable nation brands published by consultants Brand Finance.

The Punt isn't exactly sure how this is measured, but it will put a smile on the faces of the Cabinet. The more interesting news from the data is the fact that Germany has lost its position as the most powerful nation brand.

The report shows measurable damage to the long-term financial potential of 'brand Germany'. Its value has dropped by US$191bn to US$4.2 trillion, down 4pc on 2014. And all, it seems, because of Volkswagen.

"German industry is lauded for its efficiency and reliability while Germans as a whole are seen as hard-working, honest and law abiding. That such an iconic German brand, the 'people's car', could behave in this way is beginning to undo decades of accumulated goodwill and cast aspersions over the practices of German industry," said Brand Finance's chief executive, David Haigh.

Irish Independent

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