MARKET REPORT: Playtech investors receive a welcome surprise

Playtech investors received a welcome surprise as a rival bidder for the company’s financial trading division surfaced. 

Gopher Investments, part of Hong Kong-based finance firm TTB Partners, tabled an all-cash £181m offer for Finalto.

Gaming software firm Playtech had already agreed to sell the business, which owns trading platform, to a consortium of Israeli investors earlier this year for up to £152m – the deal had been two years in the making. 

So the 11th hour bid from Gopher met Playtech’s board with some bemusement. Because the directors have already signed the agreement with the Israeli consortium, they are unable to engage with the new suitor. 

The decision over which bid to choose now rests with shareholders. They were due to vote on the original deal on July 15. 

But Gopher is now urging them to turn it down, as it attempts to win them over with its own offer. 

Shareholders will have to weigh whether they would prefer the certainty of the first bid, which has already been signed, or the potentially higher price proposed by Gopher. Shares in Playtech edged up 3.1 per cent, or 13.4p, to 443.8p, suggesting at least some investors were leaning towards the increased offer. 

Playtech’s rise helped the FTSE 250 close up 0.6 per cent, or 124.45 points, at 22746.99 points, while the FTSE 100 index of major companies was struggling for direction, ending the day down 0.03 per cent, or 1.89 points, at 7123.27. 

Top of the pile of blue chips was Informa. It has been a dreadful 18 months or so for events and conferences. But analysts at Berenberg have upgraded Informa as authorities around the world begin to lift Covid restrictions. ‘Restrictions, which have prevented the running of large trade shows, are being eased globally, and while 2021 shows will be smaller and less profitable than normal, we think they set Informa up for a substantial recovery in profitability from 2022,’ the analysts said in a research note sent to clients. 

Raising its target price from 610p to 640p, the German broker added: ‘As 2021 begins to fade in the rear-view mirror, and 2022 becomes the main focus of investors, we think Informa has potential for a strong recovery. Buy.’ 

Shares in the business rose 3.2 per cent, or 16.4p, to 529p. 

Banks, however, were dragging the index down amid concerns that the spread of the Delta variant could put a damper on the recent bout of economic optimism. 

Standard Chartered slid 2.4 per cent, or 11.1p, to 456.5p, Natwest was down 2.2 per cent, or 4.5p, to 202.4p, Barclays fell 1.7 per cent, or 2.94p, to 172.36p, Lloyds slipped 1.7 per cent, or 0.8p, to 46.83p, and HSBC edged down 1.6 per cent, or 6.7p, to 416.65p. 

It came as economists at HSBC warned Britain could face more long-term damage, or scarring, from the pandemic than its neighbours in the eurozone. 

On Wall Street, Tesla posted record car deliveries of 201,250 for the second quarter despite a shortage of chips and raw materials that is wreaking havoc in the industry worldwide. 

‘Congrats Tesla Team on over 200,000 car built & delivered in Q2, despite many challenges!!’ boss Elon Musk said in a tweet. Shares rose 3pc in early trading but fell back. 

Back in the UK, Jefferies maintained its upbeat stance on UK homebuilders, lifting Barratt Developments (up 0.3 per cent, or 1.8p, to 713.2p) and Bellway (up 0.8 per cent, or 27p, to 3327p) to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’. 

‘The sector remains a firm favourite with investors,’ said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell. 

‘Fundamentally, there is still a major shortage of homes in the UK, so perhaps investors are taking the view that housebuilders will be able to easily sell every property they construct.’