Ader’s SpringOwl demands a Playtech ‘clean break from Teddy’

According to The Times, US activist investor Jason Ader has called on Playtech Plc to sever all ties with Israeli enterprise founder Teddy Sagi.

During the course of 2018, Ader’s New York hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management has been building up its investment in struggling FTSE250 Playtech Plc – demanding that the governance undertake a group-wide shake-up, boosting returns for investors.

Meanwhile, in recent years Playtech founder Teddy Sagi has diminished his shareholding to 4.8% in the gambling technology group, which he founded in 1999 and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006.

The Times reports that SpringOwl and Ader have pressed Playtech governance to undertake a ‘clean break’ from its relationship with Sagi as founder.

Ader’s Springowl hedge fund is a specialist in activist investments, targeting underperforming listed corporations and applying pressure on governance to undertake major structural changes with the aim of improving shareholder value and corporate options.

From its peak June 2017 trading high 0f 1,020 GBX, Playtech Plc has seen its share price slump below 500 GBX, with the FTSE technology group’s corporate market cap valuation stagnated at circa £1.5 billion.

Undertaking his first moves on Playtech this summer, Ader demanded that the board return to focusing the company on operating its gambling verticals.   

This September, Playtech offloaded its 10% stake in Israeli ‘contract-for-difference’ online brokerage Plus500, securing £180 million for the transaction.

Ader’s increased influence has seen speculation mount on the future of long-term Playtech Chief Executive Mor Weizer (CEO since 2007), with SpringOwl reported to be seeking a fresh face to drive Playtech’s aggressive US growth strategy.

Furthermore, investor pressure is mounting on Playtech to enact changes, with a significant number of shareholders (35%) opposing the re-election of Alan Jackson as Chairman. Late to gambling’s US party, City analysts anticipate big changes to be delivered at Playtech Plc in 2019.