Zeal CEO Dr Helmut Becker

Zeal Network has confirmed that the meeting scheduled for January 18, at which shareholders are to vote on the proposed takeover of Lotto24, will go ahead as planned.

The move follows calls from Lottoland to postpone the meeting so that the operator could table an alternative bid for unspecified Zeal assets that, Lottoland CEO Nigel Birrell said, would be in the interests “of all shareholders”.

The request for the meeting to be delayed was made in an open letter published earlier this week, in which Birrell heavily criticised the proposed takeover of Lotto24 by Zeal and even suggested that deal was specifically in the interest of “certain shareholders”. The letter, from Birrell to the Zeal board, said that Lottoland would table an alternative offer and would be in touch with Zeal.

Zeal responded strongly, accusing Lottoland of “interference”.

In a further statement, released today, Zeal said it would “like to clarify for shareholders that the proposed adjournment, if shareholders attending the meeting were to give their consent, would result in termination of the planned takeover bid for Lotto24 and a cooling-off period of 12 months before a potential new bid could be made, due to the German takeover law process framework for the transaction.

“Contrary to Lottoland’s representation, Zeal shareholders would therefore not be able to choose between the Lotto24 transaction and any transaction Lottoland may or may not propose in the future,” the statement read.

“Shareholders should therefore be aware that the proposed delay of the shareholder meeting to consider an alternative and unspecified offer that may not come, may not be feasible and may not receive regulator support, would mean terminating an agreed transaction which is expected to create significant value for Zeal shareholders and which addresses recent developments in the regulatory environment in Germany.”

Additionally, Dr Helmut Becker (pictured), CEO of Zeal, said: “There are currently no other proposals on the table for shareholders to consider and we have no evidence that any serious alternative offers will materialise.

“We remain open to discussing serious proposals until January 18 when our shareholder meeting will take place as planned. However, seven weeks have already passed since we first announced our proposal, and we are already holding the meeting towards the end of the regulatory timetable.”