JKO secures Bhargava backing in hot pursuit of Playtech  

Eddie Jordan, who leads JKO Play’s takeover pursuit of Playtech Plc, is reported to have secured the financial backing of former Party Gaming enterprise co-founder Vikrant Bhargava. 

The Sunday Times reported that the British Indian tycoon will serve as a co-financier of JKO’s bid that requires its submission to Playtech governance by 2 February.

As stands, Playtech governance has backed a $2.7 billion approach made by ASX-listed Aristocrat Leisure, that aims to establish global gambling’s lead technology supplier for land-based and digital verticals.  

Despite Playtech’s preference, JKO remains in the race to acquire the FTSE250 technology group in which Jordan must conjure up a + $3 billion deal and further benefits to sway investors from Aristocrat’s proposal.  

JKO has until 5:00 pm on 26 January to make a firm offer to purchase Playtech, with the initial deadline of 5 January having been extended by the Panel Executive of the latter last week.

During 2021, JKO began its hunt for a gambling/wagering M&A target, as Jordan and business partner Keith O’Loughlin undertook a failed $1 billion bid to acquire the OpenBet sportsbook platform from Scientific Games.

With time closing on JKO’s ‘put-up or shut-up’ notice, Jordan is reported to have secured financing terms with New York based private equity fund Centrebridge, who will serve as the deal’s majority debt backer.

Bhargava’s backing of JKO’s bid will serve as a further coup for Jordan’s pursuit of Playtech. An igaming pioneer Bhargava is credited with executing the enterprise strategy of Party Gaming during the early 2000s that saw the company IPO on the FTSE exchange for an £8 billion valuation – smashing all previous listings recorded by UK tech.

In 2016 Bhargava departed Party Gaming offloading the majority of his shares that earned him an estimated fortune of $1.6 billion. 

Aristocrat is reported to have secured the support of investors accounting for 20% of Playtech’s shareholding.  

Playtech’s future ownership is being monitored closely by industry leadership. The technology group remains the biggest igaming systems and platform supplier for tier-1 operators despite seeing its business valuation halved since 2017 – in which the operator traded as the FTSE100’s most valuable technology firm.

Aristocrat is currently the only bidder for Playtech, and its proposed purchase of the firm has been recommended by the latter’s board to its shareholders.

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