Playtech boosted by William Hill stake amid buyback talks

ONLINE gambling software group Playtech has been boosted by record performance at William Hill Online (WHO), the internet bookie in which it has a 29 per cent stake.

Playtech said a 71 per cent year-on-year rise in its share of William Hill Online’s profit during the fourth quarter of last year, along with its own revenues rising by a fifth, pushed group income up 26 per cent to €98.8m (£84m).

WHO’s performance is in the spotlight because parent company William Hill is trying to buy Playtech’s stake back, and has appointed bankers to value the business. William Hill has a call option on Playtech’s stake, allowing the company to buy it back if William Hill likes the value the banks arrive at.

The stake is unlikely to be cheap though, with profits improving so rapidly and William Hill’s recent acquisition of online bookie Sportingbet likely to add to its value. The valuation process will finish at the end of this month.

Beyond the performance at WHO, Playtech’s core business, in which it designs casino, poker and bingo software for online bookies like bet365 and PaddyPower, also performed strongly, capitalising on the internet gambling boom in southern Europe.

The Italian and Spanish markets have recently relaxed regulations, with gambling proving very popular in those countries.