BUSINESS

Playtech appoint Segev as retail boss; Teddy Sagi buying Reading FC?

TAGs: Playtech, Reading, Shay Segev, teddy sagi, videobet

playtech-sagi-reading-fcOnline gambling technology supplier Playtech has undergone an executive shuffle that will see Shay Segev take control of the company’s Videobet retail subsidiary. Segev, an eight-year Playtech veteran, originally joined the company as Videobet COO before being appointed COO of Playtech in 2011. Segev claimed to be “delighted to lead Playtech’s retail arm through its next strategic phase of combining our retail and online offering.”

Videobet revenue rose 14% to €12.3m in 2013 as the company struck deals to link the online operations of companies like Ladbrokes and Coral to gaming machines in their retail betting shops via Playtech’s single-wallet Information Management System. Under his previous remit, Shay oversaw the rollout of 25k Videobet machines in UK betting shops. VideoBet now operates over 30k VLT machines and over 50 casino management systems in markets including the UK, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

SAGI BUYING READING FC?
Last week saw Playtech hold its annual general meeting, at which chairman Alan Jackson touted the company’s €527m cash stockpile and the opportunities that pile provided for “value-enhancing acquisitions, joint ventures and partnerships.” But the most recent Playtech-related acquisition talk involves the company’s founder and largest shareholder Teddy Sagi, who is said to be considering buying the Reading Football Club.

Various reports in both the UK and Israeli press over the weekend suggested Sagi’s private helicopter had touched down near Madjeski Stadium, where the Royals play their matches. Sagi was reportedly greeted by team owner Sir John Madjeski and CEO Nigel Howe for an afternoon of tea and takeover talk. Other reports suggested Sagi was planning to build a shopping mall and hotel on the stadium’s adjoining properties, which aren’t that far from Heathrow airport.

Madjeski holds a 49% stake in the club, having sold 51% to Russian businessman Anton Zingarevich a couple years back, but both owners are reportedly looking to offload their holdings. The team’s board of directors had scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to discuss Sagi’s offer, as well as a competing bid from Indian businessman Mohit Burman.

Madjeski has publicly complained about the “voracious costs of running a football club” and might be persuaded to part with the team for £1 and the new owner assuming the club’s debts and tax obligations. Financing such a deal shouldn’t be a concern to Sagi, whose net worth has been estimated at $2.5b by Forbes. But will the UK’s football authorities tolerate having a “jailbird pornographer” amongst their ownership ranks?

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