Eddie Jordan Gets Backing From Gaming Tycoon

Former Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan has got himself some serious financial backing as he challenges Aristocrat for Playtech Plc.

Eddie Jordan and his JKO Play company is keen on acquiring Playtech. JKO Play has not yet put in an official bid for the London Stock Exchange-listed gaming software giant but everything points towards that changing.

Jordan and his JKO Play company were frontrunners for OpenBet, the sports betting arm of Scientific Games. However, the former Formula 1 manager missed out to Endeavour, who paid US$1.2 billion ($1.67 billion) for it. Jordan has his sights set on Playtech Plc, although has not yet officially bid.

Australian firm Aristocrat offered 680 pence per share for 100% of Playtech stock. The offer values Playtech at £2.1 billion ($3.9 billion), and represents a 58% premium on Playtech’s October 15 share price. Playtech’s largest shareholder is in favour of the Aristocrat deal.

Jordan and JKO Make Late Play for Playtech

Rumours of a potential last-minute bid from Jordan and JKO Play gathered pace in early December. A statement on the JKO Play website confirmed the rumours as true.

“The Eddie Jordan Family office and Keith O’Laughlin note this morning’s announcement by Playtech and confirms that a consortium led by them, called JKO Play, is evaluating making a competing offer for the issued and to be issued share capital of Playtech Plc. JKO Play emphasises that this announcement does not amount to a firm offer under Rule 2.7 of the Code and there can be no certainty that any possible competing offer will be made, nor as to the terms on which it might be made.”

Playtech set a January 5 deadline for a concrete bid from Jordan and his team. January 5 was seven days before planned Playtech shareholder meetings regarding the acquisition. However, Playtech pushed the meetings back, granting JKO Play an extension.

“Aristocrat notes the announcement by Playtech that it will further delay its shareholder meetings in relation to the Recommended Acquisition from January 12 to February 2.”

“As a result, the UK Takeover Panel has confirmed that the latest date by which time JKP Play must clarify its position has been moved to 5:00 p.m. on January 26. By this time, JKO must either announce a firm intention to make an offer for Playtech under Rule 2.7 of the UK Takeover Code, or announce that it does not intend to make an offer for Playtech.”

JKO Has The Backing of a Gaming Guru

The Times newspaper reports Jordan has enlisted the financial backing of a gaming guru. Vikrant Bhargava is understood to be part of the financing team Jordan is putting together. Bhargava has a net worth of £850 million ($1.61 billion), so has the financial clout to help Jordan.

Bhargava joined PartyGaming, then known as iGlobalMedia, as a marketing director in early 2000. He oversaw the marketing launch of PartyPoker a year later, and was the face of PartyGaming when it floated on the stock market in 2005. PartyGaming’s IPO valued the company at US$8 billion ($11.14 billion), the largest, at the time, of an internet company.

The India-born British businessman has several hugely successful businesses. Having his name involved is a major coup for Jordan.

Uncertainty Affecting Aristocrat Share Price

A single share in Aristocrat cost $47.37 the day before the company announced its Playtech bid. Spending $3.9 billion did not go down well with shareholders, and the price fell to $44.87.

Shares continued falling and bottomed out at $42.49 in mid-December. However, those shares have since recovered to $44.18 per share. Investors do not like uncertainty; the topsy-turvy share graph reflects that.

Those shareholders do not have long to wait to learn if Jordan is a legitimate opponent. The January 26 deadline is less than three weeks away.