Jordan’s JKO Outta Gas, Drops Playtech Pursuit

And so, as previously intimated on these pages, it appears that former Formula One top-gun Eddie Jordan, currently helming venture capitalists JKO, has abandoned the race to buy leading iGaming software suppliers Playtech.

To be honest, there was always a whiff of hype around JKO’s Johnny-come-lately bid to gazump Australian slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure’s solid US$2.7 billion offer for Playtech (£2bn/€2.39bn).

Feisty Eddie, now aged 72, founded JKO as an investment vehicle to specifically target mergers and acquisitions in the gambling industry with fellow Irishman Keith O’Loughlin.

For this bid, they brought on board Gibraltar-based Anglo-Indian billionaire venture capitalist Vikrant Bhargava in a belated attempt to boost the credibility of their reputed US$3 billion play for Playtech (£2.22bn/€2.66bn).

But on the last lap, as they made their lunge to overtake Aristocrat, the JKO jalopy just ran out of gas.

Perhaps, to switch metaphors, they were more stalking horse than thoroughbred in the Playtech stakes. And were simply being manipulated to drive up the market offer.

This latest setback follows Jordan and O’Loughlin’s failed US$1 billion bid (£743m/€887m) to buy the OpenBet sportsbook platform from Scientific Games last year.

Although it has seen its business valuation halve since 2017, Playtech remains one of the biggest iGaming systems and platform providers in the world.

Their board now report that they have reiterated their recommendation to shareholders to accept the Aussie offer.

But the FTSE-250 company–which supplies online gaming software for companies including Bet365, Betfair, Paddy Power and William Hill—has also confirmed it doesn’t have “a clear understanding” of how much support there is for the move.

An EGM to vote on the proposed merger is scheduled for February 2.

It could be a stormy affair.

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