Entain reshuffles governance amid CEO departure

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Entain has unveiled five new corporate governance appointments to bolster its leadership team in the post Jette Nygaard-Andersen era. 

Last week the joint parent of BetMGM confirmed that CEO Nygaard-Andersen had stepped down with immediate effect following a turbulent 2023 mired by investor pressure. 

It was revealed that Stella David, long time business ally of Chairman Barry Gibson, would step from her previous NED role into the interim CEO role to replace the outgoing executive. 

Meanwhile, five leadership positions have been defined to usher in a new era that will see the gambling group come out of a period defined by its $600m+ settlement with the UK tax office over legacy bribery charges relating to a historic Turkish business. 

The global sports betting and gaming giant has firstly named Pierre Bouchut as its new Senior Independent Director.

Meanwhile, Virginia McDowell now officially becomes Chair of the Remuneration Committee, and Barry Gibson – who currently serves as Chairman of the company – as Chair of the People and Governance Committee.

Entain’s final appointment is Rahul Welde, who becomes a member of the People and Governance Committee.

Barry Gibson said: “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted that Pierre has agreed to take on the role of Senior Independent Director to replace Stella. His extensive board experience and knowledge of the Company makes him ideally placed for the role of Senior Independent Director. 

“I am also grateful to Virginia and Rahul that they have agreed to take on these additional responsibilities.”

While the long-term future direction of Entain is yet to be defined while the search for a permanent CEO is identified, the rumor mill is in full swing concerning what the group will do. 

In the UK, The Sunday Times reported that Eminence Capital CEO Ricky Sandler could be offered a place on Entain’s board to placate dissent that he has shown in recent months. 

Sandler, whose firm owns around 2.1% of Entain stock, wrote a letter to the operator’s board over the summer outlining his frustration with Entain’s strategy, particularly singling out its acquisition of Polish group STS as “particularly perplexing”.

Sandler wrote: “The market reaction to this equity offering should be a wake-up call to Entain’s tone deaf Board and management team. We can assure you that this particular shareholder is outraged and in light of the movement in the Company’s share price we are clearly not alone in that sentiment. 

“As shareholders lose confidence in Entain’s ability to allocate capital and create long-term value, it is quite likely they will support a sale of the company to MGM at a materially lower price than previously assumed.”

Sandler being offered a seat on the board would hint that Entain is looking to maximize the value of the BetMGM venture, which is set to post profitability for H2’23. 

However the JV is set to call 2024 an investment year as it seeks to gain around 20-25% market share in the next three years in the online sports betting and online casino industry. 

While there has been much talk of an M&A deal to resolve the JV but MGM Resorts International has always denied interest in putting an offer to acquire Entain since its failed attempt back in 2021.