Novomatic approval triggers exciting times for Ainsworth

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Ainsworth Game Technology (AGT) chief executive Danny Gladstone has described this week as an ‘exciting point’ in the company’s development after the contentious acquistion of 53% of its shares by Austrian giant Novomatic was approved by AGT’s minority shareholders.

Gladstone seemed pleased that the issue was over: “We are delighted to have received shareholder support and look forward to working with Novomatic on the completion of this transaction and delivering on the expected benefits for our shareholders.

“While the process has been protracted, this is an important and exciting point in AGT’s development. Novomatic is a highly respected and impressive industry leader. We look forward to progressing this relationship with a view to delivering the significant expected benefits that have been outlined and execute on our international growth strategy.”

Novomatic plans to buy the shares from AGT founder Len Ainsworth, although many institutional investors were not happy at the 92-year-old’s divestment of his shares and there were calls for the whole company to be acquired instead.

Ainsworth’s wife Gretel was even forced to withdraw her vote on the sale, even though she owns 8.9% of the company, after complaints to the Takeovers Panel about her compromised position. However over 60% of the minority shareholders ended up approving the deal, paving the way for Novomatic’s involvement.

Novomatic said that this relationship is expected to ‘accelerate AGT’s development and support the creation of a stronger company with deeper product breadth enabling it to better compete against international gaming conglomerates’.

Chief Executive Officer Harald Neumann said that through Novomatic’s majority shareholding, AGT will benefit from collaboration across a range of markets that will be substantially positive for long term shareholder wealth creation.

He said: “We value the trust and support by the minority shareholders through the positive vote of approving the share transaction and will make every effort to meet their expectations. We will commence implementing the binding commitments as outlined in the Notice of Meeting to crystallise the expected benefits of the relationship.”

Totally Gaming Says: “There’s no doubt that Novomatic’s deep pockets and extensive expertise could help boost AGT into new territories although there still seems to be some resentment from the remaining shareholders and questions over whether the firm can carry this out with a 53% shareholding. The sale is still subject to a range of regulatory and gaming licence approvals, but it would be a big surprise if there were any more hiccups.”

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