What Lured Gambling Boss Teddy Sagi Into Buying London’s Camden Market?

Londoners woke up Monday morning to the news that a massive fire hit Camden Market. A building located next to the market hall area of the popular marketplace was reported to have been engulfed in blaze shortly before midnight on Sunday.

A total of 70 firefighters fought well into the early hours of Monday morning to contain the flames. Eyewitnesses described the scene as one of immense horror as the fire spread quickly and claimed wider and wider area.

There is an ongoing investigation over why the fire broke out in the first place. First reports about the damage that the huge blaze wreaked revealed that three floors and the roof of the building where the fire erupted were badly affected. Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries. However, many stall holders were devastated to find out that they may have lost their livelihood as their goods, a great quantity of which being handmade ones, were damaged in the blaze.

Camden Market started back in 1974 as a small weekly marketplace for crafts. Stalls were at first only temporary ones, placed every Sunday by holders to sell their goods. It gradually developed and expanded into what it is now – a complex packed with both stalls and fixed premises, including supermarkets, bars, and many more.

And for the past four decades, Camden Market has been known not only as a marketplace for goods of all kinds, shapes, and sizes, but also for its overall immense diversity and its bohemian atmosphere. This is why news about the fire were globally received with great worry and upset.

Here it is also important to note that for several years now, Camden Market and Camden Town, as a whole, has been spotted as a suitable place to start up a new business. What is more, one particular company, which actually happens to be the owner of Camden Market, has been trying to turn the area into a technology hub and to enhance its popularity through the integration of modern technology into everyday life.

Who Owns Camden Market?

Camden Market is currently owned by Market Tech Holdings Ltd. And up until recently, Market Tech was 71%-owned by LabTech Investments Ltd., an assets management firm controlled by Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi. In the context of the online gambling industry, Mr. Sagi is known as the owner of internationally recognized developer and supplier of iGaming solutions Playtech.

LabTech recently purchased the remaining 29% stake in Market Tech and has thus become its sole owner. The deal valued the Camden Market owner at around £890 million.

It also announced that Market Tech would be taken private once LabTech concluded the purchase deal, a move that has been necessitated by plummeting share price that has hampered the company’s expansion plans. In fact, the company canceled trading its shares on London’s Main Market on July 11.

Why Did Teddy Sagi Buy Camden Market?

Although claims about Camden Market losing its previous luster have floated around over the past several years, it is no secret to anyone that it has been among London’s most popular tourist destinations with an estimated of 28 million visitors per year.

And as mentioned above, Camden Town has gradually established itself as a favorite area for start-up businesses. According to a report by UK’s Office for National Statistics, the number of newly created business enterprises in Camden has been growing at a stable pace since 2010. As many as 5,445 new enterprises were established in Camden in 2015, up significantly from 2,930 in 2010.

What is more, it seems that Camden was the third most preferred London area for setting up a new business in 2015, with Westminster and Islington being the only two boroughs to have homed more new start-ups during the reported year.

Given Camden’s popularity among tourists and its apparently favorable environment for establishing a new business, Mr. Sagi’s interest should not be found that much surprising. The Israeli businessman founded Market Tech in 2014 to gradually buy Camden Market bit by bit.

Led by him, Market Tech spent £400 million on acquiring the marketplace and is planning to spend around £200 million between 2017 and 2019 in implementing its strategy to twine real estate and technology together and thus “create the Camden of the future” or a leisure, working, and living destination that uses digital technology to improve overall experience.

It is also interesting to note that Mr. Sagi has reduced significantly his stake in Playtech in order to focus his attention and investment push on Camden Market. When a person who has made his fortune from gambling steers away from the industry in favor of a completely different project, this is much indicative of the importance and potential that particular project holds.

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