Playtech shareholders revolt on succession duties

Playtech Plc faces a shareholder revolt with regards to how the company handled succession duties following the departure of Alan Jackson as Non-Executive Chairman last year.

The Times reported that shareholders of the FTSE250 technology group are unhappy that Playtech’s board suspended its executive search for Jackson’s replacement last May – a move that saw Claire Milne extend her role as interim chair of the company.

The firm maintained, however, that it will proceed to name a full-time chairman appointment ‘once it completes its selection process’.  

Playtech claimed it was forced to temporarily suspend its search for Jackson’s replacement citing that standard governance procedures had been interrupted by significant limitations and restrictions of COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, Milne had been charged with leading an internal review of Playtech’s compliance failings related to its defunct B2C subsidiary PT Entertainment Services (PTES), the former operating company of TitanBet and brands, which was fined £3.5 million by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for serious customer care failings. 

The Times stated that ‘several investors’ are frustrated by governance’s failure to appoint a high-profile chairman during a critical juncture for the company, which requires an experienced leader to represent Playtech to the investment community.

US investor, Jason Ader who holds 5% of Playtech shareholdings through New York investment fund SpringOwl, openly stated his frustrations.   

“We do not support Claire Milne as the future chairwoman of Playtech,” he was quoted. “We believe there are better candidates to lead this company into US gaming markets and lead it in its various endeavours over the course of the next decade.”

Meanwhile, Playtech governance stands by its decision, noting Milne’s proven experience as a Playtech non-executive director since 2016, during which time she has advised the FTSE firm on its global compliance and legal disciplines.

Alan Jackson’s tenure as Chairman of Playtech was blighted by numerous shareholder disputes with regards to the firm’s continued underperformance and executive pay. 

Frustrated shareholders have called for Playtech governance to drastically change the firm’s remuneration strategy and the make-up of the board, having seen the company’s share price halved from its 2017 highs when Playtech was recognised as the FTSE100’s highest-valued technology incumbent.

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