Ladbrokes owner Entain is reportedly poised to appoint Jette Nygaard-Andersen as its next chief executive after Shay Segev’s bombshell departure. Segev only took over from long-standing leader Kenneth Alexander last summer, but he has been lured to streaming platform DAZN by a huge financial package.
“We cannot match the rewards that he has been promised,” admitted Entain chairman Barry Gibson. DAZN is owned by billionaire Sir Leonard Blatnavik, and it sees Segev – who was chief operating officer at Entain before taking the top job – as the perfect man to lead the business into a new era.
Danish national Nygaard-Andersen is already a non-executive director at Entain, which was formerly called GVC Holdings. She spent more than 15 years in the leadership team at Modern Times Group, a listed entertainment company with a strong presence in Scandinavia and central Europe, and previously worked at Danish logistics group AP Moeller-Maersk.
Sky News reported that a deal to appoint her as its new CEO had not yet been concluded, but that it was likely to be announced as soon as next week. There is a new to appoint a new chief executive quickly, as Entain recently rebuffed an $11 billion takeover bid from US firm MGM Holdings, its partner in the 50/50 US joint venture BetMGM.
Entain also owns Coral, Bwin and several other brands, and it said the bid undervalues the group. MGM has until February 1 to make a new offer or walk away under stock market rules. Shares in the firm have increased significantly after the rejected bid, and its market value has soared past the £8 billion mark.
William Hill reported that total net revenue increased 9% in the fourth quarter of 2020. It said that sports betting was the main driver behind that strong performance, with sportsbook revenue increasing 20% year-on-year. Handle was also up 16%.
In the UK, online revenue rose 5% in Q4. However, the group’s retail business saw net revenue decline by 30% as a result of lockdown measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. William Hill betting shops were closed for several weeks in Q4 as part of a second national lockdown, and they are closed once again now. When retail stores were allowed to open, they “traded well and profitably”, but they are on course to report a loss of £30 million for the year as a whole.
Online international net revenue increased 12% in 2020 following the integration of the Mr Green brand, which William Hill bought the previous year. US revenues for 2020 increased by 32%, despite casino closures and the rescheduling of sports events. Revenues in Q4 were up 121% in the US following launches in five new states. William Hill is now featured on both ESPN and CBS Sports.
William Hill has accepted a £2.9 billion takeover bid from Caesars Entertainment, its partner in the US market. When it completes, Caesars will seek to sell all non-US operations, which accounted for 90% of group revenue last year.
888 Holdings announced that it expects to beat profit forecasts and revenue expectations for 2020 after demand surged during coronavirus lockdowns. With UK betting shops closed, Brits increasingly turned to online operators like 888. It delivered a post-close trading update for the full year to December 31, revealing that revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be “moderately ahead” of previous forecasts.
The group said it enjoyed record revenue and active customer numbers in December. “We are pleased with 888’s trading during the second half of 2020,” said chief executive Itai Pazner. “This performance continues to reflect strong FTD trends in line with the group’s recreational customer focus as well as the structural shift towards online services being seen across several consumer-facing industries. We have continued to prioritise safe gambling and recognise the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of 888’s customers across global markets.
“888 continues to invest in protecting customers and has again increased the volume of interactions with customers initiated by 888’s safer gambling team in order to help prevent gambling related harm. Underpinned by 888’s core strengths as a responsible operator with outstanding technology, the group remains well positioned to deliver further strategic progress.”