September 7, 2018 / 2:58 PM / in 7 months

U.S. activist SpringOwl calls for Playtech to spin off non-core business

LONDON (Reuters) - Gambling software company Playtech should sell off its financial services businesses and focus on gaming, shareholder SpringOwl Asset Management’s founder Jason Ader said.

Jason Ader speaks at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook summit at the Thomson Reuters building in New York, November 20, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Ader, whose fund has built a $100 million stake in Playtech, welcomed the announcement on Friday of the sale of its 10 percent stake in retail online trading platform Plus500.

“We’re not advocating any fire sale or any rushed transaction, but over time we would like to see Playtech in the gaming business...and not have the distraction of other financial services holdings,” Ader told Reuters by telephone.

“The company and its businesses and its assets are worth significantly more than where the stock is trading.”

Playtech’s shares, which have fallen 26.1 percent over the last year, were down 0.6 percent to 484.1 pence at 1350 GMT. The company has issued two profit warnings this year due to lackluster Asian market growth.

Financial services businesses made up 10.7 percent of the company at end-December 2017, according to its annual results.

Ader said SpringOwl had directly and indirectly sought to contact Playtech founder Teddy Sagi over the last several months but had not received a response.

Asked whether he wanted Sagi, who has a 6.3 percent stake in Playtech, to exit as a shareholder, Ader said:

“I don’t have a sense that the future of this company includes Teddy Sagi.”

SpringOwl has previously held other positions in the gaming world, including Canadian company Stars Group Inc, and gambling group Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, which was bought by GVC Holdings Plc.

Reporting by Maiya Keidan in London and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Alexander Smith

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