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Former F1 team boss Jordan drops pursuit of UK's Playtech

By Reuters

By Pushkala Aripaka and Sinchita Mitra

-Former Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan has withdrawn from making a potential offer for Britain’s Playtech, while the gambling software maker continued to back a 2.1 billion pound ($2.9 billion) buyout by Aristocrat Leisure.

London-listed Playtech’s shares fell 16% on Friday after a company related to Jordan, FTB Ltd, said his JKO Play consortium did not plan to make an offer for Playtech. It did not give a reason for the decision.

The consortium approached Playtech in November. Other suitors were also once circling the London-listed firm, in what could have been three-way battle for Playtech.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday Jordan was concerned that a group of Asian investors that recently bought in to Playtech would block the deal. The investors could not be reached by Reuters.

Playtech said on Friday it was speaking to its shareholders about Aristocrat’s offer, saying “a number of material investors have not to date engaged meaningfully about their views” on the proposal.

The FT said JKO, which owns 0.51% of Playtech, was set to offer 750 pence per Playtech share, citing three people involved in the process. Australia’s Aristocrat has offered 680 pence per share.

It also said JKO had planned to sell Playtech’s Italian business to Ladbrokes owner Entain. Entain declined to comment.

Peel Hunt analysts said there was an “an intense focus” on Playtech’s value following the bidding. “It is clear that there is value to be extracted from Playtech’s interest in Caliente in Mexico and … from the Italian B2C business,” they noted.

Gopher Investments, Playtech’s second-biggest shareholder which refrained from making an offer for the company in November, declined to comment on JKO’s move or Aristocrat’s offer due to be voted on by shareholders on Feb. 2.

Aristocrat said on Friday regulatory approvals for the Playtech deal were on track.

($1 = 0.7350 pound)