Odey Drops Opposition to Playtech’s $715 Million Bid for Plus500Richard Partington and Ben Stupples
Crispin Odey dropped his opposition to the 459.6 million-pound ($715 million) sale of Plus500 Ltd. to Playtech Plc, a deal he said last month “materially undervalues” the Israeli trading platform.
The 400 pence a share offer from the online gambling company won 93.4 percent approval at a meeting of investors in London, Plus500 said in a statement on Thursday. That indicates the company’s largest shareholder, Odey Asset Management, didn’t use its 20 percent stake to oppose the deal. A spokeswoman for Odey declined to comment.
Odey said in June it intended to vote against Playtech’s bid and signaled it would welcome higher offers. The firm increased its stake as Plus500 lost more than two thirds of its value in May after the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority ordered some customer accounts to be frozen in a review into anti-money-laundering controls.
“It’s a fair price given the increased scrutiny,” Plus500 Chief Executive Officer Gal Haber said at the meeting. Other bidders “had time to make an offer, which they didn’t.”
Plus500 unfroze all but five accounts last month and said last week it had “agreed revised procedures” for checking customer details and would be able to accept new U.K. clients from August.
The takeover is dependent on antitrust and regulatory clearance. Playtech plans to hold a meeting to seek approval from investors, it said in a separate statement.
Plus500 won enough support from shareholders to approve the deal before Odey voted, Chairman Alastair Gordon said. James Spalton, an analyst at Odey Asset Management, declined to comment on how his firm voted at the meeting.
Plus500 didn’t get a better offer than Playtech’s after a “six or seven week period in which this company has been in the shop window,” Gordon said.
Even so, some investors at the meeting voiced anger that the company was being sold below the 750 pence at which it closed in London trading on May 15 before it disclosed the FCA probe.
“You’re selling the company for buttons,” Leslie Young, who said he lost a “six-figure sum” investing in Plus500, told the board at the meeting. “The way you’ve treated the shareholders is an absolute disgrace.”
The company “has nothing to apologize for,” Haber said on the sidelines of the meeting. Any criticism is “absolutely not fair” because stock was sold at 115 pence a share at its initial public offering in 2013, he said. “We made shareholders four times their money.”
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