Eddie Jordan and JKO Play have found a source of funds to help with JKO’s potential bid for Playtech. The co-founder of PartyGaming, Vikrant Bhargava, has stepped up to support the potential acquisition of the gaming company.
Aristocrat was seen as the only legitimate bidder for Playtech, putting $2.9 billion on the table. JKO Play, a company partly founded by Jordan, then entered and showed interest. The former Formula 1 team owner has been putting the pieces together since then, hoping to challenge Aristocrat.
Last week, Playtech agreed to give JKO more time to achieve its goal. After a meeting by shareholders of the company to vote on the Aristocrat bid was postponed, JKO was given until January 26 to show it’s serious.
Indian Billionaire Steps Up to the Plate
Bhargava is going to help JKO’s efforts, per a report by the Sunday Times. The media outlet indicates that the billionaire co-founder of gaming operator PartyGaming has agreed to put up some of the funds. The amount of his investment wasn’t provided. PartyGaming is behind PartyPoker, which launched in 2001.
Bhargava was a primary reason for PartyGaming’s success. He helped it quickly expand and to ultimately launch on the London Stock Exchange in 2005. There, it achieved a valuation of £8 billion (US$10.85 billion) when it introduced its initial public offering.
PartyGaming would later be moved to the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index. In 2006, it suffered a setback when the US switched gears on online poker.
The introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 destroyed many online gaming operators as the country cracked down and determined online gambling was illegal. PartyGaming ultimately settled with the US government for $105 million to avoid prosecution.
JKO Has a Long Way to Go
Jordan and JKO had previously wanted to purchase OpenBet from Scientific Games. However, the $1-billion bid presented wasn’t enough to secure the win. The company, which is also backed by Keith O’Loughlin, has continued to search for new targets since then.
Playtech seemed like the best option, according to the company. However, it would need to impress Playtech shareholders and substantially beat Aristocrat’s offer. That won’t be an easy task, but having Bhargava joining the consortium may help.
JKO also reportedly secured financing terms with a New York-based private equity fund. Centerbridge Partners was brought into the fray last November as an additional component.
Bhargava Becomes a Mega-Investor
Five years ago, with PartyGaming having rebounded and riding a wave of success, Bhargava left the company. He subsequently sold most of his stake, which reportedly gave him a windfall of $1.6 billion. He then launched a private investment company, Veddis Ventures.
Forbes lists the Bhargava as the 30th-richest man in India. He is also among the top five richest people in Gibraltar, where Veddis is headquartered.
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