SBC News Lord Mendelsohn leads dicey search for new 888’s new CEO  

Lord Mendelsohn leads dicey search for new 888’s new CEO  

The Board of 888 Holdings has agreed to maintain Yariv Dafna as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who will no longer depart the company on 31 March, 2023.

The decision was disclosed to the London Stock Exchange (LSE), further to this morning’s announcement that CEO Itai Pazner had resigned from all executive duties.

Shares have plummeted by approximately 20% in the FTSE250 business following its morning announcement by Chairman Lord Mendelsohn admitting to compliance failures related to VIP accounts in the Middle East.

Pazner’s abrupt departure has seen Mendelsohn take control of group executive duties, in which he leads a search for a new CEO to lead the embattled business.

The update and CEO resignation has seen speculation mount as to whether 888 faces any inbound regulatory challenges related to its compliance, KYC and AML failings.  

888’s board admitted that “best practices have not been followed” but underlined that deficiencies were “isolated to this region only”, naming no specific countries involved in compliance discrepancies.

The intended departure of CFO Yariv Dafna had been disclosed at the start of the year, as investors were informed of a 3% decline in group FY2022 revenues, which included the contribution of new William Hill assets.

Financial woes were attributed to the group accounting for a significant tightening of customer compliance rules across all UK gambling brands.   

Dire 2022 trading saw Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan offload £350m of debt bonds at a discounted rate, as the investment banks failed to secure bondholders to guarantee 888’s enlarged debt holdings of £1.8bn needed to expand the business.

At the start of the year, 888 began a reorganisation of its Tel Aviv headquarters, in which the company announced a series of layoffs to reduce the headcount of its 600 staff members.

As noted by igaming advisory Regulus Partners, Lord Mendelsohn leads an executive search to find a leader “who wants to take on an operational turnaround, intense regulatory scrutiny, high debt, UK retail exposure and gambling reputational risk”.

Lord Mendelsohn is recognised as UK gambling’s highest-profile chairman, having previously served as a key policy advisor to the New Labour government under PM Tony Blair.

The former New Labour spin doctor, noted that he had accepted 888’s chairmanship, aware of the conflicts surrounding the industry which needed to be changed for the better ahead of the Gambling Review. 

2023 initial proceedings have seen European online gambling Plcs revise their market make-ups, as FTSE counterpart Entain Plc declared its exit from all unregulated jurisdictions.

City analysts’ eyes have turned to the UK government’s pledged publication of the Gambling Review’s White Paper in February. Further compliance demands on affordability and bet limits are expected to be announced as analysts predict which operators are best prepared to accommodate for further sweeping changes in their relationships with customers.

SBC News Lord Mendelsohn leads dicey search for new 888’s new CEO  

Check Also

SBC News Andrew Rhodes: Third consultation to prioritise land-based reforms, but RET Levy remains with DCMS

Andrew Rhodes: Third consultation to prioritise land-based reforms, but RET Levy remains with DCMS

UK gambling’s land-based venues and stakeholders have been warned to prepare for a summer of …

SBC News Legal Eye: UK Gambling braced for its defining summer test series

Legal Eye: UK Gambling braced for its defining summer test series

Harris Hagan dissects the affairs of a busy opening to May, in which the Gambling …

SBC News 888 refinances £400m of debt to bolster VCP plan

888 refinances £400m of debt to bolster VCP plan

The board of 888 Holdings has secured terms to refinance £400m of senior secured debt …