Odey Asset Management, the $US13.1 billion (£8.4 billion) London hedge fund, just lost a takeover battle for the UK-listed stock-trading firm it owns 25% of.
Around 67% of Plus500 shareholders voted to sell Plus500 to Israeli gaming software company Playtech at a special general meeting held in London today — well above the 50% needed under Israeli takeover law.
Playtech’s shareholders still need to approve the deal but that should prove relatively straightforward.
Plus500’s management backed the bid but Odey Asset Management, Plus500’s biggest shareholder, attacked it as “an opportunistic bid exploiting current regulatory issues and risks.” We predicted Odey would be defeated last month.
To recap, Plus500 is an Israeli-headquartered company that lets ordinary people make risky, leveraged bets on stocks and currencies through something called a contract for difference (CFD). Plus500’s share price went into free-fall in May after UK regulators told the company its anti-money laundering checks weren’t up to scratch. Plus500, which has its stock listed in London, had to freeze thousands of UK customer accounts in the wake of the regulator’s review.
Odey Asset Management, run by City of London heavyweight Crispin Odey, held a 13% stake in Plus500 prior to the fiasco but bought additional shares after the price collapsed, probably on the hopes of a rebound. Much of its stake was bought above or around the £4 a share level.
But while Plus500 was scrambling to patch things up, Playtech swooped in with a low-ball bid at the start of the month. The fellow Israeli company, which is looking to branch into trading software, offered £459.6 million ($US702.05 million) for Plus500, equivalent to £4 ($US6) a share.
That’s almost half the £862 million ($US1.3 billion) Plus500 was worth before the crisis blew up. At its peak before the fall, Plus500 shares were worth £7.50 ($US11).
Plus500 now say everything is back to normal but Playtech say the crisis showed the business doesn’t have the resources to operate in the market, something the takeover will fix.
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