SBC News ‘Deal maker’ Rafi Ashkenazi ends Flutter tenure 

‘Deal maker’ Rafi Ashkenazi ends Flutter tenure 

Flutter Entertainment has confirmed that former The Stars Group Inc (TSG) Group Chief Executive Rafi Ashkenazi has chosen to end his responsibilities as a non-executive director of the company, effective immediately.  

The confirmation of Ashkenazi’s departure follows Flutter publishing its 2020 interim statement this morning, in which corporate governance underlined that it would accelerate technology integrations and regulatory alignment with TSG assets to help the company navigate COVID-19 headwinds. 

Under Flutter-TSG original merger proposals, Ashkenazi had been offered the position to serve as Group COO, a proposal the executive had turned down by choosing to serve the enlarged enterprise as a non-executive director.

A long-term executive of PokerStars, in 2015 Ashkenazi was appointed as Chief Executive of Amaya Inc following the abrupt departure of former CEO David Baazov – who faced allegations of insider trading related to Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars. 

At the time, Ashkenazi had been branded as a trusted hand to steady PokerStars ship following Baazov’s controversial tenure which had damaged the firm’s reputation with investors.

However, Ashkenazi moved to rapidly diversify the company, rebranding Amaya Inc to The Stars Group (TSG) and launching the firm’s new BetStars sportsbook and casino platforms.

Having led the TSG recovery, in 2018 Ashkenazi stamped his mark as a deal making CEO by completing back-to-back acquisitions of CrownBet Australia (AUS $350m) and the $5 billion transformative buyout of Sky Betting & Gaming – stating TSG’s intent to become a dominant sportsbook player. 

TSG’s M&A drive was undertaken as the US market began to open for regulated wagering following the repeal of federal PASPA laws – a landmark decision which would change all industry dynamics.

Amid a rapidly changing US market backdrop and heightened regulatory scrutiny across Europe, in 2019 Ashkenazi greenlighted TSG’s $12 billion merger with Flutter Entertainment – a deal which created the outright global lead in online gambling.

In May, Flutter and TSG completed all merger regulatory hurdles to finalise the transaction.

Speaking to investors, Flutter Plc chairman Gary McGann thanked Ashkenazi for overseeing the transformative merger, which sees Flutter operate the global portfolio of Betfair, Paddy Power, PokerStars, Sky Bet, SportsBet Australia and FanDuel.  

“I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the major contribution of Rafi in creating the exceptional business that is TSG,” said McGann.

“Rafi has made a significant impact on TSG during his seven-year tenure and was instrumental in transforming TSG from a single product operator to a diverse global leader with multiple product offerings. We wish him well for the future.”

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