Playtech hunts for deals with William Hill cash

LONDON, April 25 Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:43am EDT

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LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - Flush with cash from the sale of its stake in its joint venture with William Hill, gaming software company Playtech is looking at bid targets, Chief Executive Mor Weizer said on Thursday.

Playtech sold its 29 percent stake in William Hill Online for 424 million pounds ($647.3 million) in a deal completed earlier this month.

"We see exciting alternatives and opportunities for the company given the firepower we have now," he told Reuters, saying the company could make an acquisition or enter into other joint ventures.

Having parted company with William Hill, Playtech has already signed a five-year agreement to work with Ladbrokes on developing its digital products. Ladbrokes is Britain's second largest bookmaker after William Hill.

Weizer said he saw "significant growth potential" from a partnership that includes a software licensing agreement and marketing advisory services from Playtech.

Gross income rose 16 percent to 102.5 million euros ($133.2 million) in the three months to the end of March, including a 15 million euro share of profit from the William Hill venture.

Playtech pledged to match or raise last year's interim dividend of 7.8 cents per share, which represented a total payout of 22.5 million euros.

"Even though we will not generate a share of profit from William Hill from mid-April, we are confident about the growth of the business," Weizer said.

Playtech shares edged higher to 623p by 0735 GMT, giving the company a market value of around 1.8 billion pounds.

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