(Reuters) – Ladbrokes owner Entain appointed non-executive director and industry veteran Jette Nygaard-Andersen as chief executive on Thursday, making her the first woman to lead a UK gambling company.
Outgoing CEO Shay Segev announced his intention to step down to take a job at global sports streaming platform DAZN, just days after he turned down an 11 billion dollar takeover approach. from MGM Resorts’ just after seven months in the role.
Nygaard-Andersen takes on the role at a time when Entain is evolving into an entertainment company and will be tasked with leading the company into regulated markets, expanding into the lucrative US sports betting market and increasing its online offering.
“We also believe this reflects a desire to maintain continuity around the Board’s recently revamped strategic plan, both in terms of the internal appointment and Ms. Nygaard-Andersen’s experience in digital entertainment,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.
Nygaard-Andersen, who joined Entain in 2019 after a long stint at Swedish e-sports and games group MTG, will immediately take over and Segev will be available for the company until July 8 to ensure a smooth passage.
Chief Financial Officer Rob Wood will take on additional responsibilities as Deputy CEO, taking responsibility for all retail operations and trading activities, the betting company said.
Entain said it expects U.S. annual net sales of between $ 175 million and $ 180 million, ahead of its third quarter forecast, and has kept its group core earnings forecast range of between £ 825 million. and 845 million pounds.
Net online gaming revenue increased 41% for the quarter ended December 31, the company said, as customers started playing from at home while casinos and betting shops are closed during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
The owner of the bwin, Coral and Eurobet brands offered to buy Swedish rival Enlabs AB earlier this month to capitalize on the growing sports betting market, after snubbing the approach from its US joint venture partner MGM.[L4N2JI1LX]
Some analysts have speculated that Entain may still find another bidder, but its shares have returned to pre-bid levels and the existing joint venture could prove to be an obstacle for another bidder.
“MGM may have decided to drop its refused Entain search for £ 8.1 billion, but there are no hard feelings,” said Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter.
The shares were little changed at 0903 GMT at 12.69 pounds.
($ 1 = 0.7301 pounds)
Reportage by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Elaine Hardcastle