888 Activists Propose New Management Team with Kenny Alexander as CEO
Posted on: June 13, 2023, 09:57h.
Last updated on: June 13, 2023, 11:07h.
FS Gaming Investments, the group that last week revealed a 6.57% stake in 888 Holdings, is putting forth a new management slate. That includes former GVC CEO Kenny Alexander for the same role at the embattled William Hill parent.
Reportedly, the Alexander-backed group also wants Stephen Morana to take over as 888 finance director, a role he previously held at Betfair. Betfair is now a unit of Flutter Entertainment (OTC: PDYPY). FS Gaming made the pitch to 888 Executive Chairman Jonathan Mendelsohn, who they want to replace with former GVC Chairman Lee Feldman.
With the 6.57% interest in 888, it’s believed that FS Gaming is now the second-largest shareholder in the sportsbook operator. In London trading, shares of 888 rallied on reports of the FS Gaming management proposal, and as the company announced the completed sale of its Latvian operations to Paf for $30.65 million.
“The sale of the Latvian business marks another positive step in the execution of our integration program,” said Mendelsohn in a statement. “This sale generates cash proceeds from a non-core market to support our deleveraging plans, as well as enabling reinvestment into our core and growth markets.”
888 Ripe for Management Shakeup
Gibraltar-based 888 is arguably primed for a management shakeup. Not only is the gaming company dealing with the regulatory aftermath of lax anti-money laundering protocols, it’s also grappling with C-suite upheaval.
Earlier this year, former chief executive officer Itai Pazner resigned amid the money laundering probe. It’s expected current CFO Yariv Dafna will also depart 888. Regardless of industry, firms with tenuous management situations make for viable targets for activist investors, of which it’s clear FS Gaming is one.
Owing to the reputations of Alexander, Feldman, Morana, and other FS backers, it’s believed the investment community is warm to the idea of that trio taking the reins at 888.
“The one concern we would have with regards to Mr. Alexander’s possible appointment would be whether there are any possible risks from the ongoing HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Turkish investigation that could impact him personally,” wrote Goodbody analyst David Brohan in a report. “However, there is no doubting the wealth of experience that both appointments would bring to 888.”
What FS Gaming Could Want with 888 Holdings
Beyond the aforementioned management changes, FS Gaming’s plans for 888 aren’t yet clear. Should the investment consortium prove successful in reshuffling the gaming company’s management, doors open from there.
Those include potentially repurchasing shares of a stock the group views as deeply undervalued, or possibly positioning 888 for a sale.
Himself an avid bettor, Alexander is no stranger to dealmaking. In his more than 13-year stint as chief executive of GVC, now Entain, he oversaw the company’s entry into the BetMGM partnership with MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM). He also helmed GVC’s expansion from the owner of a single sportsbook to one of the largest operators in the industry, including in Europe and Australia.
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