Playtech 2013 figures to exceed forecasts but no word on acquisition targets

playtech-ladbrokes-opap-casino-technologyOnline gambling software providers Playtech released a post-close trading statement on Thursday, indicating that both revenue and earnings for 2013 would be “marginally ahead of current analysts’ consensus.” Playtech closed out the year with a flurry of deals, including an exclusive online casino pact with Baltic operator Olympic Entertainment Group and a prospective deal to take the Netherlands’ Holland Casino online.

Playtech’s update offered no indication as to what it planned to do with the over half a billion pounds in cash it had earmarked for acquisitions, but perhaps they’re waiting for founder/largest shareholder Teddy Sagi to launch some new companies that they can convince the market are worthy additions to the Playtech portfolio.

Playtech’s future may get even brighter, as the firm is rumored to have the inside track on a deal to provide Greek monopoly gambling provider OPAP with online casino software. (OpenBet has reportedly won OPAP’s sportsbook tender.) Playtech’s new Greek presence will likely amplify the discord between the software supplier and its former joint venture partner William Hill. In addition to there being no love lost between Hills CEO Ralph Topping and Playtech senior management, Hills has been among the most aggressive critics of Greece’s anti-competitive moves to bolster OPAP’s online fortunes. (Who gets to play the Spartans in this fight?)

Until OPAP makes their official announcement, Playtech watchers must content themselves with the news that the company has inked a deal to add casino game content from Bulgarian developer Casino Technology. The deal will see five of Casino Technology’s most popular titles launch on Playtech’s desktop, mobile and tablet platforms as well as on Playtech’s retail offshoot Videobet. The companies are to officially seal the deal next week at the ICE Totally Gaming confab in London.

This week has also brought further integration of Playtech’s software into the online platform of UK bookies Ladbrokes. The two companies inked a five-year deal last March to beef up Ladbrokes’ languishing online offering, to which Playtech has now added a suite of its live-dealer games. Ladbrokes Digital managing director Jim Mullen told eGaming Review that the addition marked “an another important milestone” for Lads’ online business.

Mullen said Lads hopes its online site will be fully upgraded by the time the all-important 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off this summer, but Investec analyst James Hollins suggested the oft-delayed integration wouldn’t be complete until Q4. Given that Sagi already has a 3% stake in Lads, does anyone else suspect Playtech is deliberately slow-rolling the integration in order to drive down Lads’ share price so that it can use that half-billion pounds it’s sitting on to acquire Lads outright?