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UK's Playtech to sell trading unit to Gopher for $250 million

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By Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) -Britain's Playtech said on Wednesday it would sell its financial trading unit to Gopher Investments, the company's second-biggest shareholder, for $250 million, after investors had rejected a rival deal agreed to earlier this year.

The cash deal for Finalto has been unanimously backed by the gambling software maker's board and ends a months-long battle for Gopher with Playtech and a consortium led by Israeli private equity firm Barinboim over control of the unit.

"We are very pleased to have successfully reached an agreement with Gopher ... This transaction delivers on our strategy to simplify the group to focus on the high-growth B2B and B2C gambling markets," said Playtech Chief Executive Mor Weizer.

Playtech said it would either retain proceeds, worth over $130 million, from the sale and cut its debt if there was clarity on the current pandemic-hit business environment, or return capital as feasible, depending on when it receives funds.

Hong Kong-based Gopher, which has a near 5% stake in Playtech, said the deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.

London-listed Playtech also said Gopher would pay an $8.8 million break-up fee to the Barinboim consortium, as promised by the shareholder in July on the condition that Playtech accepted its $250 million deal over Barinboim's $210 million offer.

Playtech was founded more than two decades ago by Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi. While Finalto is not a core asset, it had been rapidly growing, and market volatility brought on by the pandemic also made it a lucrative target for buyers.

For the first half of fiscal 2021, the unit posted an adjusted core loss of $600,000, Playtech said.

Shares of the company, which have gained about 15% in value this year, ended 3.5% higher on Wednesday at 459.8 pence before the agreement was disclosed.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and David Gregorio)

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