The chief executive of Playtech has sprung a fresh surprise in the battle to control the London-listed gambling software group by teaming up with an Asian-based suitor.
Sky News has learnt that Mor Weizer has opted to work with TT Bond Partners (TTB) on a potential offer for Playtech, even as the company’s considers a string of approaches that could lead to its break-up.
Tom Hall, Playtech’s former chief executive, is also working with Mr Weizer and TTB, according to insiders.
Sources said that Mr Weizer, Mr Hall and TTB had formally begun working together in the last few days.
Known informally as ‘Hong Kong Tom’, Mr Hall built a stake in the business earlier this year.
The latest development means that Mr Weizer will have to recuse himself from boardroom discussions about Playtech’s future ownership.
Playtech has been at the centre of a frenzied battle for control, with several parties tabling or considering bids for the whole company in recent months.
Australia’s Aristocrat Gaming secured a board recommendation for a £2.7bn takeover, which unravelled several weeks ago when it became clear that it would not secure sufficient support from shareholders.
Earlier this month, Sky News revealed TTB’s interest in buying the company – a prospect that looks far likelier with the backing of its incumbent chief executive.
TTB had itself advised on an earlier bid for Playtech from Gopher Investments, which in turn had already struck an agreement to buy Finalto, a division of the group.
The situation has unfolded into one of the most complicated and nuanced bid battles in the London market for years.
Aristocrat’s bid failed largely because of opposition from a bloc of Asian-based investors with which Playtech’s board, chaired by the industry veteran Brian Mattingley, had tried unsuccessfully to engage.
The presence of those shareholders on the register was also a factor in deterring the former Formula One team boss Eddie Jordan from submitting a formal offer for Playtech through his vehicle, JKO Play.
Mr Mattingley has since been evaluating proposals to buy Playtech’s Italian and business-to-business operations separately.
It remained unclear on Monday at what level TTB, which was founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Teresa Teague and ex-Merrill Lynch banker Jonathan Bond, might make a formal offer for Playtech.
TTB says it has “significant experience” of investing in technology-driven financial services businesses, including in the US, Pakistan, India and Hong Kong.
Playtech claims to be the world’s largest supplier of online gaming and sports betting software.
Including debt, the company has an enterprise value of more than £2.5bn.
Shares in Playtech were trading 4.5% down on Monday at about 640p well below the level of Aristocrat’s now-lapsed 680p-a-share offer.
The global gambling sector has seen a deluge of major corporate deals over the last year, including most notably in the UK the takeover of William Hill by Caesars Entertainment, with its British operations subsequently acquired by 888, the London-listed group.
More recently, DraftKings, a US-based gambling giant, abandoned plans to bid for Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral in the UK.
Playtech declined to comment on Monday, while TTB could not be reached.