You have to feel for the staff and shareholders at Playtech right now – they don’t know whether they’re coming or going.
The casino software specialist has been the subject of one failed takeover bid and two more expressions of interest – none of which has come to fruition.
However, there is fresh speculation that a new potential buyer has emerged – more on that shortly.
In the meantime, Playtech chiefs are getting on with business as usual, and they have inked a mammoth five-year deal with the Jockey Club, which is one of the most considerable commercial forces in British and Irish horseracing.
Playtech will be tasked with creating ‘cross-product’ content on behalf of the group, which is likely to include online slots based on the famous races and courses that the Jockey Club owns the rights to – those include the Grand National and Epsom, home to The Derby.
The first fruits of the partnership’s labour could be released in time for another of the Jockey Club’s enterprises, the Cheltenham Festival, which gets underway on March 15.
Horse racing has been a source of previous casino gaming success for Playtech, with Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven – a slot game based on the jockey’s iconic seven winners in a day at Royal Ascot in 1997 – a cult favourite amongst players.
The firm’s casino director, James Frendo, is looking forward to getting started.
“By partnering with an iconic sporting institution such as The Jockey Club, we are able to create a full range of exceptional and exciting cross-product content,” he said.
“Partnering with globally recognised brands is a key pillar of our branded content strategy, as we look to deliver a unique and engaging responsible gambling experience to our customers.”
Enter Player Four
With a £2.7 billion bid made for the company by Aristocrat Gaming rebuffed by a rebel band of shareholders, and other interest from Gopher Investments and Eddie Jordan’s JKO Play consortium failing to yield offers, Playtech’s hopes for a sell-off have so proven unsuccessful.
But there could yet be a twist to the tail, as yet another suitor has come forward to make their intentions known.
TT Bond Partners, a private investment firm that features former Goldman Sachs partners amongst its directorship, has claimed that it is ‘serious’ about making a bid for Playtech.
As such, they have asked the firm’s board of directors to release the company from the restrictions that would otherwise prevent it from being the subject of a new takeover approach.
Sky News has reported that the board has agreed to those conditions, and now TT Bond can begin their due diligence processes that might precipitate a formal offer.
The plot twist is that TT Bond Partners had acted as advisers to Gopher Investments on their bid for Playtech in 2021, although that action ended in November when Gopher decided to walk away from the table.
According to the marketing materials of TTB, they have ‘significant experience’ of investing in tech-based assets and service providers, and with a number of considerable investments in Hong Kong – where they are based – and the rest of Asia, they might just be able to cajole the 27.7% of dissenting Playtech shareholders, which include a number of Asian entrepreneurs, to give any offer they make the green light.