Clearwater International advises Playnation on sale to Novomatic

Clearwater International has advised Playnation, a leading UK supplier of amusement and entertainment machines, on its cross border sale to Novomatic Group, one of the largest integrated conglomerates of the international gaming industry.

The Runcorn based business, which currently employs over 700 staff, owns and operates 20,000 amusement and entertainment machines across over 1,700 sites in the UK. The business partners with high profile names in the leisure sector across holiday parks, motorway services, bowling centres and airports, with well established clients including Bourne Leisure, Park Resorts, Parkdean, Moto, Welcome Break and Roadchef.

The company was established in 2013, following a management buyout backed by Palatine Private Equity – a deal which Clearwater also advised on. Since then it has grown exponentially, recently securing an extension on its contract with MOTO, the UK’s largest provider of motorway service areas.

Novomatic Group, founded in 1980, comprises affiliated companies in 50 countries and exports high-tech gaming equipment to more than 80 jurisdictions. The firm operates over 232,000 gaming machines across more than 1,500 group operations including casinos and betting shops, and achieved a turnover of more than €3.8bn in 2014. In addition to its headquarters in Austria, the company has production facilities and research and development centres in Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and the UK.

With its specialism in family entertainment machines, the acquisition of Playnation provides Novomatic Group with an opportunity to break into new markets, and expand its offering to the consumer across the EU. Playnation will now have access to the enormous client base at Novomatic’s disposal, and can capitalise on growth opportunities both in the UK and overseas.

Clearwater International advised the Playnation shareholders on the deal, led by managing partner Phil Burns, who was supported by director Rob Burden and associate director Alper Dervish.

Beth Houghton, Investment Director at Palatine Private Equity said: “Since our investment in Playnation we have seen the business achieve exceptional growth in the family entertainment sector, capitalising on the buoyant market conditions. With the business now at a point in its growth cycle where an international buyer can take it onto the next stage, Novomatic is the perfect strategic partner to help achieve Playnation’s long-term objectives. I have enjoyed working with Adam and the management team and wish them all the success for the future.”

Adam Hodges, CEO at Playnation said: “We appointed Clearwater International to advise on the sale of Playnation to Novomatic.This is the second time we’ve appointed Clearwater International, previously ahead of our successful management buyout in 2013, and they were a natural choice.

“Clearwater International delivered exceptional results; their extensive knowledge and can do attitude, coupled with attention to detail facilitated an efficient and smooth process. We were once again very impressed, and I would not hesitate in recommending Clearwater International.”

Phil Burns, Managing Partner, Clearwater International commented: “We were delighted to work with Adam and the team at Playnation for the second time. This acquisition by Novomatic is a great example of the appetite being shown by international strategic buyers in strong UK businesses.”