Thursday November 24,2011 : Software developer's founder Tedi Sagi could own almost fifty percent of the company
Playtech's GBP 100 million placing to raise funds for acquisitions has enabled its billionaire founder, Tedi Sagi, to increase his holding by as much as 49.9 percent, according to widespread reports in the UK business press Thursday.
Following the company's publication of the response to its offering of 46.5 million shares at 215p, it appeared that Sagi had raised his shareholding in the online gambling software provider to at least 43.7 percent after agreeing to underwrite the share placing.
The company announced that the placing had been given to Brickington, Sagi’s investment firm, which had held 40.3 percent of Playtech, and to institutional shareholders.
"Brickington is underwriting the placement at no fee, and offered to take up any or all of the 27.8 million shares available to institutions that are not taken up. This meant that the Israeli billionaire’s stake could have gone up to 49.9 percent," the Financial Times reported.
Institutions ended up taking two-thirds of the share allocation available to them.
Playtech’s chief executive officer, Mor Weizer, said he was “delighted” with the support shown by investors.
"On the basis that the placing is approved by shareholders, these funds will deliver us immediate firepower for the strategic acquisitions and joint ventures we see before us," commented Weizer.
"As part of this exercise, the board has re-confirmed its commitment to move to the main market and announced a revised dividend policy. We continue to enjoy strong current trading and, when taken all together, these actions will take Playtech to the next level.”
The AIM-listed group added that it was confident of meeting the requirements by the UK Listing Authority that has prevented it from obtaining a main market listing, and amended its dividend policy. It will pay 40 percent of profits, split one-third at interim and two-thirds at final dividend.
For the current year, Playtech, which has a market cap of GBP 560 million, will combine the interim with the final dividend payment at the 40 percent level.
Not all analysts were impressed by the placing results. Brokers Panmure Gordon suggested that the market might be "unnerved" by Brickington’s ability to increase its shareholding to 49.9 per cent, whilst Numis downgraded its Playtech recommendation to a sell, saying it had become “harder than ever to work out what kind of company Playtech plans to be”.
Peel Hunt was more positive, suggesting that it was largely irrelevant whether Sagi held a 40 percent stake or a 49.9 percent stake, whilst Evolution Securities opined that while Sagi’s stake presence “may be viewed negatively”, the fundraising was “a sensible approach in further cementing its market leadership”.