Playtech’s planned acquisition spree does not rule out payout

PLAYTECH’S chief executive has said he plans to spend much of a £424m windfall from the sale of the company’s stake in William Hill’s online business on acquisitions, although he has not ruled out a big return to investors.

Mor Weizer told City A.M. that the company is “currently assessing a number of exciting possibilities, strategic investments that will take us to the next level”.

Ever since the gambling software provider announced it was in discussions over selling its stake in William Hill Online (WHO) back to its parent company last year, the City has speculated about what it would do with the windfall.

Weizer said yesterday that he will make deals that will allow the company to enter new markets as gambling regulation across Europe and North America matures, with a particular focus on the US.

“We are in certain discussions with various groups with regards to different types of partnerships in the US,” he said. Analysts have suggested that Playtech could use the cash to hand investors a one-off windfall, and Weizer said a focus on acquisitions is “not to suggest there will be no additional return”.

“We do understand that this is something expected,” he said.

For the first three months of the year, Playtech yesterday reported a 16 per cent rise in income, which includes group revenues as well as the contribution from WHO’s profits. The company, whose software is used by partners including Betfair, Sky, and Paddy Power, saw income hit €102.5m (£86.4m), driven by substantial rises in casino betting and tie-ups with sports bookies.