Shares in former Football Pools owner Sportech crash amid sale fail

Oliver Gill
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Sportech has more than halved in value this morning (Source: Getty)

Shares in Sportech, the London-listed former owner of the Football Pools, were today sent crashing after revealing a bad news double-whammy.

Investors were stunned at an announcement all suitors had walked away from a sales process. The gambling firm put itself up for sale last October after receiving approaches from unnamed bidders.

Sportech's woes were compounded by annual earnings falling to £6.5m – half of analyst expectations. Driving the poor performance was a string of "accounting corrections".

The gambling firm's share price had fallen by more than 50 per cent by lunchtime.

Sportech sold the iconic Football Pools in March 2017 for £83m to OpCapita, the turnaround fund heavily criticised for its role in the downfall of electronics retailer Comet. A previous Pools sale to Burlywood Capital for £100m had fallen through in November 2016.

Read more: Sportech could be swallowed by another gambling company

Former chief executive Ian Penrose and ex-CFO Mickey Kalifa left Sportech in December. Today the firm announced Andrew Gaughan as its new CEO. A search for a permanent finance chief is continuing with non-exec Richard Cooper providing oversight in the meantime.

"The board and senior management invested considerable time in diligently managing the formal sale process," said chairman Richard McGuire.

"Whilst a sale of the company might have delivered an immediate further return to shareholders, in addition to the £75m returned last year, I am confident that the Company has the potential to deliver significant long-term value to shareholders, especially if the US sports betting market is liberalised and also from further diversification strategies.

We are focused on ensuring Sportech benefits fully from any changes in the US sports betting market and we anticipate announcing exciting new initiatives in due course.

He continued: "We have a strong balance sheet, professional management, dedicated staff and industry-leading products being delivered to supportive clients across 37 countries."

Read more: Opcapita takes a £83m punt on the Football Pools

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