Tom Hall, Playtech’s former chief executive officer, blamed Aristocrat Gaming for planning and coordinating the campaign around the group of Asian investors, who have decided to build a blocking stake at the Isle of Man-based gambling software developer before the shareholder vote and joined their efforts to deem Aristocrat’s bid as unsuccessful.
As reported by the Financial Times, Mr Hall, who served as CEO at Playtech in the period between 2003 and 2005, was involved in the media reports speculating that the aforementioned Asian investors had been purchasing stock of the gambling software provider at prices exceeding the 680p per share proposed by Aristocrat Gaming with the idea of blocking the bid. The takeover offer did not succeed to get the necessary approval of the company’s shareholders and was simply let to expire.
A report compiled by a private investigation company that prompted the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers of the UK to start an investigation, Mr Hall was exactly the one pointed as the mastermind behind the group of unnamed Asian investors that have been working to block the proposed deal. The former chief executive officer of Playtech himself has been a resident of Hong Kong since 1989.
Apart from these claims, the report also listed some major connections between a number of Hong Kong-based investors, saying that some of them were linked to criminal organisations. Still, according to an unnamed source familiar with the deliberations of the panel, the group of Asian investors was never considered to have acted in concert to block the proposed acquisition deal.
Former Playtech CEO Says He Does Not Know Asian Investors
Mr Hall, who currently owns a 1.34% stake at Playtech, rejected the rumours that he was acting as a link between any of the names of the Asia-based group of investors. The former CEO of Playtech also confirmed that he had never been in contact with these people and he had never heard of them. This is also exactly what he told the Takeover Panel, and also stated that the panel was misinformed about the timing of his Playtech stock purchases.
The former Playtech CEO also provided more details about the background of the latest approach by TTB Partners, another contestant to take over the Isle of Man-based gambling software supplier that is yet to announce a firm offer. The chief executive officer of Playtech, Mor Weizer, who openly welcomed the group by asking to join as an investor, also voted against the acquisition bid of Aristocrat Gaming, describing it as too low.
When talking to the Takeover Panel, Hall also outlined his transactions in the company’s shares. For the time being, Mr Hall is working on a management buyout with Weizer, with the deal being supported by TTB Partners. According to reports, he initiated contact with TTB Partners after Aristocrat Gaming’s takeover bid for Playtech failed, and then called for Weizer to join to help the company’s US expansion.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.