A Mystery Investor Sold Playtech Stake Before Profit Warning

(Bloomberg) -- An unidentified investor sold a stake worth approximately $160 million in Playtech Plc about two weeks before the U.K. software company reported a profit warning that sent the stock tumbling, people familiar with the matter said.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s trading desk began to market the stake on June 14, the people said, asking not to be named as the details aren’t public. The seller was a U.S. hedge fund, two of the people said.

A June 19 filing showed that Morgan Stanley had reduced its stake in Playtech from 5 percent to below 3 percent. Morgan Stanley held the shares on behalf of an investor, two of the people said.

Representatives for the banks and Playtech declined to comment.

Playtech, backed by billionaire Teddy Sagi, announced a profit warning on July 2 citing competitive pressures in Asia, which sent its shares tumbling 26 percent. They are down more than 30 percent since the day before the announcement.

The block of shares that changed hands in Playtech around the sale was about 14 million shares, or around 4 percent of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average daily volume traded in Playtech is around 1.6 million shares, the data show.

Playtech said in July that competitors in Asia were driving a “particularly aggressive pricing environment” which hurt revenue. “Given the recent decline and in the absence of any change in market dynamics, we expect a significant impact on revenue throughout the rest of the year.” That impact could lower revenue from Asia by about 70 million euros ($82 million) compared to original expectations, it said.

The company’s management and others with access to material information are prevented by European regulations from selling shares for 30 days before interim or year-end financial reports. Other investors don’t have specific restrictions unless they’re in possession of insider knowledge.

Playtech fell 3.14 percent to close at 500.20 pence in London trading Wednesday following a downgrade to neutral from an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG. The shares have declined 42 percent this year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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