Aristocrat to buy UK gambling group in £2.7bn deal
Australian gaming company Aristocrat has announced a deal to purchase UK gambling group Playtech for £2.7bn in a bid to increase its footprint in the online betting sector.
The bid offers Playtech shareholders £6.80 per share, representing a 58.4 per cent premium on its Friday closing price.
Aristocrat expects to realise additional earnings per share in the high single digits in the first year after purchase, the company said.
The Playtech board said it unanimously intended to recommend the deal to shareholders, who would need to approve it with a 75 per cent majority.
Aristocrat said it hoped to benefit from Playtech’s presence in North America and Europe, which it expanded via the 2018 purchase of a 70 per cent stake in Italy-based Snaitech and a series of launches in US states in recent years.
“The business will be ideally positioned to unlock sustainable shareholder value by seizing opportunities in the fast-growing global online [real-money gaming] segment as they continue to open up, particularly in North America,” said Trevor Croker, Aristocrat chief executive.
Venezuela halts talks with opposition after key Maduro ally extradited
Venezuela’s government has suspended internationally sponsored negotiations with the opposition and revoked the house arrest of six American prisoners after the US extradited a close ally of president Nicolás Maduro to face money laundering charges.
Venezuela’s chief negotiator Jorge Rodríguez said in a televised statement that his side would not attend the next round of talks due to be held in Mexico City on Sunday. This followed news that Alex Saab, a Venezuelan envoy, had been flown to the US on Saturday from the West African island of Cape Verde, where he was arrested last year.
The delegation’s withdrawal is the latest blow to the Mexico negotiations, which are intended to try to find a solution to the political crisis which has engulfed Venezuela since Maduro was accused of clinging to power in a rigged election in 2018.
As part of a broader retaliation for Saab’s extradition, Venezuela also revoked the house arrest of six American executives of the Citgo oil company who have been held in Venezuela since 2017 and sentenced to long jail terms on what the US government regards as trumped-up charges.
Read more about the extradition here.
Hungarian opposition picks outsider as poll challenger to Orban
Hungarian conservative politician Peter Marki-Zay emerged on Sunday as the surprise challenger to prime minister Viktor Orban in elections set for April 2022 after he won the country’s first national primary contest against the centre-left candidate Klara Dobrev.
Marki-Zay is a 49-year-old conservative father of seven and mayor of the small southern town of Hodmezovasarhely — a post he won as the candidate of a unified opposition against the political machine of Orban’s ruling Fidesz party.
Before the two-round primary Marki-Zay, who is not a member of any of the parties competing in the selection process, had widely been considered a long-shot behind Dobrev, Budapest mayor Gergely Karacsony and Peter Jakab, leader of the centre-right Jobbik party. But after a late surge in the initial polling, he dominated a run-off campaign to face Orban.
Well over 600,000 Hungarians participated in each round of the primaries, a level of engagement in a country of 10m that Marki-Zay said afforded him a great level of legitimacy.
Read more about Hungarian politics here.
Bank of England chief warns it ‘will have to act’ to curb inflation
The governor of the Bank of England warned on Sunday that it “will have to act” to curb inflationary pressure, making no attempt to contradict financial market moves that have priced in the first interest rate increase before the end of the year.
Speaking from home to the G30 group of central bankers, Andrew Bailey said inflation in the UK had already risen and would rise further in ways that would warrant action to tame medium-term inflation.
Ramping up the rhetoric ahead of the Budget and the BoE’s next forecast on November 4, he signalled that his concerns on inflation during the current energy crisis had increased.
The governor stuck by his long-held view that the rise in inflation, which jumped to 3.2 per cent in August, would ultimately be “temporary” but noted that large price increases would last well into next year.
Read more about the governor’s comments here.
What to watch in Asia today
China GDP data The release of the estimate for third-quarter economic growth today comes at a critical juncture for the world’s second-largest economy. Here are five things to watch for.
Beijing winter Olympics torch lighting ceremony Two activists opposing the 2022 Games over China’s human rights record were arrested in Athens on Sunday ahead of today’s torch-lighting ceremony.
More statistics China also releases its industrial production, retail sales and unemployment figures. Singapore, meanwhile, releases its monthly trade balance data.