(Adds IronFX report, sector background)
By Patrick Graham and Jemima Kelly
LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) - Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi’s Playtech, a provider of online gaming and sports-betting software, has bought currency trading platform AvaTrade, a source with knowledge of the deal said on Wednesday.
The purchase exercises an option held a month ago when UK-based Playtech sealed the purchase of another online trader, markets.com, and is the latest in a series of acquisitions made by Sagi.
Israeli website financemagnates.com also reported on Tuesday that Sagi had been in Cyprus several times for talks to buy another privately-owned retail broker, IronFX.
Sagi could not immediately be reached for comment and Playtech declined to comment.
The moves come at a time of flux in a sector that has become a large chunk of the $5-trillion-a-day global market in foreign exchange.
Millions in losses from the sudden removal of a long-held ceiling on the Swiss franc in January have spurred on a merger and acquisition boom that many major players in the market in online currency trading had long predicted.
ETX Capital snapped up the client list of Alpari UK after its collapse in January while one of the sector leaders, Gain Capital, completed the purchase of British spread-betting firm City Index in March.
Others, like Denmark’s Saxo Bank and FXCM have had to seek fresh capital backing and hence may struggle to invest as aggressively as they would have done over the next handful of years.
Sagi, who has an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion according to Forbes, is also the majority shareholder in Market Tech — the owner of much of Camden Market, which in terms of visitors ranks as London’s second biggest tourist attraction after Buckingham Palace.
Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist had reported on Monday that Sagi was in advanced talks to buy AvaTrade for $100 million. It said AvaTrade had an operating profit of $20 million in 2014.
AvaTrade Chief Executive Officer Dáire Ferguson also declined to comment. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)