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Exclusive-Inspired Entertainment in bid to buy slot machine maker PlayAGS - sources

FILE PHOTO: PlayAGS, Inc.'s President and CEO David Lopez celebrates his company's IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Krystal Hu

(Reuters) - Gaming equipment provider Inspired Entertainment has made a $370 million offer to acquire slot machine maker PlayAGS Inc, people familiar with the matter said on Friday. Inspired has offered $10 per share in cash to acquire PlayAGS, the sources said. PlayAGS shares had ended trading on Thursday at $6. They jumped on the news on Friday and closed up 25% at $7.52.

PlayAGS confirmed in a statement that it had received a proposal. It added that it did not accept it but remained in preliminary discussions about a potential deal. It cautioned that no transaction was certain.

Inspired Entertainment declined to comment. Las Vegas-based PlayAGS makes gaming tables and interactive solutions for gaming houses. Backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc, it went public in 2018. The casino gaming industry and its vendors have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with PlayAGS now worth a fifth of what the market valued it at in 2019. However the company is on the mend as gaming activities and travel rebound, reporting $76.6 million in quarterly revenue this week, beating analyst estimates. Inspired Entertainment supplies gaming solutions, including virtual sports and mobile gaming, in casinos and bars in more than 35 jurisdictions, according to its website. It has a market value of close to $400 million. The New York-based firm reported a 72% jump in quarterly revenue to $71.3 million this week, as its business rebounds from pandemic lockdowns. On an analyst call on Wednesday, Inspired Entertainment Chief Financial Officer Stewart Baker said the firm was actively looking at a number of M&A activities. "We are certainly willing to use capital for M&A if it's something that strategically fits with what we are trying to do. And there seem to be a lot of things around right now presenting themselves as possibilities,” said Baker.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Krystal Hu in New York; Additional reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by David Holmes and Josie Kao)