Activist investor Jason Ader puts Playtech in his sights


jason-ader-playtech-investmentActivist investor Jason Ader is out to reshape yet another major online gambling firm, having put technology supplier Playtech in his sights.

On Friday, The Times reported that Ader’s New York-based Springowl Asset Management hedge fund had quietly accumulated a $100m stake in the UK-listed Playtech, giving Ader a roughly 5% stake in the company. The report said Ader (pictured) is expected to push Playtech to sell off assets or pursue an outright sale of the company.

The Times also suggested that Ader was keen to put Playtech chairman Alan Jackson in the hot seat. Jackson quietly received a £66k annual salary bump this month, despite the company’s share price having fallen by nearly half this year and shareholders voting against the company’s remuneration plan several months earlier.

Ader was quoted saying Playtech needed to “improve its reputation, governance and stock price” but he expressed interest in “continuing a dialogue” with the company. A Playtech spokesperson told The Times that the company “continually engage[s] with our shareholders and value[s] their feedback.”

Ader is also said to believe that the continuing involvement of Playtech founder Teddy Sagi, who has reduced his once considerable holdings in the company to 6.3%, “remains a negative.”

Ader’s interest in Playtech comes just as the company has formally expressed its interest in participating in the US online gambling market. Playtech is in the process of securing the approval of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to enter its intrastate online market.

Playtech investors appeared to welcome Ader’s intervention, as the company’s stock closed out Friday’s trading up 5.3% to 532p. The stock had dipped as low as 463.5p mid-Thursday.

Ader has played shakermaker for a couple of major online gambling operators in recent years, having contributed to The Stars Group (then Amaya Gaming) rejecting takeover bids by its former CEO David Baazov. Prior to that, Ader played a significant role in rooting out’s management dead wood and enabling the company’s acquisition by rival GVC Holdings.