On Monday, NetPlay TV revealed that it had asked for a suspension of trading of its AIM-listed shares while negotiations on the proposed acquisition progressed. The two companies aren’t strangers, as Sportech sold the online gambling branch of its loss-making Vernons division to NetPlay for £3m in 2013.
The Pools deal, which observers expect could be worth up to £100m, would be structured as a reverse takeover of NetPlay, which boasts annual revenue of only around £25m. Raising the cash shouldn’t be an issue, as Playtech founder/billionaire/jailbird pornographer Teddy Sagi owns a 28% stake in NetPlay.
The Football Pools business, which began life in 1923, generated £17.2m in revenue in H1 2015, down £2.1m from the same period last year. .The Pools currently attract around 300k users per week, down dramatically from its 10m peak, but Sportech believes NetPlay’s greater online experience will allow it to build up the business, much like it did with Vernons.com.
Sportech has had an active year on the M&A front, having turned down a £75m offer for the Pools business from GVC Holdings this spring. Sportech also recently disengaged from a takeover dance with Canada’s Contagious Gaming, which had hoped to create a global leader in online pari-mutuel wagering. The year wasn’t all failed efforts, as Sportech formed a joint venture in September to purchase and operate daily fantasy sports business DraftDay.
In other Sportech news, the company recently appointed Mickey Kalifa as its new chief financial officer following an “appropriate” search process. Kalifa, a six-year Sportech veteran, will begin taking over from the departing Cliff Baty on Jan. 4, 2016, assuming the full financial reins on March 3.