Online gaming tech and financial services firm Playtech plc (LON:PTEC) has announced that the UK’s Takeover Panel has given JKO Play Limited until 5:00pm on January 5, 2022, to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Playtech, or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for Playtech.
The Panel noted that this deadline will cease to apply if, before that time, a third party other than JKO has announced a firm intention to make an offer for Playtech.
The JKO group is headed by former Formula 1 owner Eddie Jordan and ex Ladbrokes executive Keith O’Loughlin. The group formally made a preliminary approach to Playtech in mid-November, seeking access to certain due diligence information, in order to explore a possible bid for the company. That followed Playtech’s signed agreement with Australia’s Aristocrat Leisure Ltd (ASX:ALL), which saw Aristocrat formally offer 680p per share, or a total of £2.1 billion, for Playtech, on October 18.
A third party which had expressed interest, Hong Kong based Gopher Investments, eventually decided to withdraw from the running for Playtech. Gopher has separately agreed to buy Playtech’s financials business, Finalto and Markets.com, for $250 million.
The JKO deadline is a full week before the still-scheduled January 12 Playtech shareholder vote to approve the Aristocrat offer. Playtech shares are now trading at 723p per share – 6% above Aristocrat’s 680p-per-share offer, so clearly traders are expecting some sort of better offer to emerge.
The UK Panel on Takeovers and Mergers is an independent body, established in 1968, whose main functions are to issue and administer the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers and to supervise and regulate takeovers and other matters to which the Code applies. The day-to-day work of takeover supervision and regulation is carried out by the Panel Executive, staffed by a mixture of employees and secondees from law firms, accountancy firms, corporate brokers, investments banks and other organisations.