Pedal to the Metal, Jordan’s JKO Ups Pursuit of Playtech

Feisty former Formula One racing boss turned corporate raider Eddie Jordan has switched to hypersoft tyres in his relentless pursuit of Playtech.

His merger and acquisitions vehicle, JKO, has just taken aboard the additional firepower of billionaire investor Vikrant Bhargava as he attempts to snatch online provider Playtech from Australian slot kings Aristocrat.

Backed by Bhargava’s wealth and reputational “nous”, JKO have upped the takeover stakes, reportedly, to a bid touching $US3 billion (£2.2bn/€2.64bn) — US$300 million (£220m/€264m) more than ASX-listed Aristocrat have been offering.

The Playtech board had already recommended the Aussie bid to shareholders, and Aristocrat’s offer was set to be accepted at a shareholder caucus on January 5.

But Jordan and his fellow Irishman and partner Keith O’Loughlin made a last-minute intervention and that meeting was cancelled. JKO now have until end of play February 2 to show FTSE-250 Playtech the money.

Indo-British iGaming pioneer Bhargava, who made US$1.6 billion (£1.17bn/€1.4bn) in 2016 when he sold his shares in PartyGaming, where he was marketing director, certainly adds heft to their bid.

Full steam ahead for Vikrant in the potential acquisition of Playtech
Softly-Softly Bhargava:

Aged 49, Bhargava now runs Veddis Ventures, a Gibraltar-based investment firm.

Despite their media-savvy hype and face, JKO could certainly do with Bhargava’s cool, measured expertise.

Last year Jordan and O’Loughlin failed in their bid to buy the OpenBet sportsbook platform from Scientific Games for US$1 billion (£733m/€880m).

This time around, JKO, who are focused on sports and gaming acquisitions, have also secured the financial backing of New York-based venture capitalists Centrebridge as they attempt to join the Big Boys.

Despite seeing its business valuation halved since 2017, Playtech remains one of the biggest iGaming systems and platform providers in the world.

When Aristocrat launched its takeover bid last October Playtech shares were valued at 680-a-share. Today they’re trading at around 720.

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