XLMedia seeks new Chair to build on 2021 acquisitions strategy

XLMedia will initiate a recruitment process for a new Non-Executive Chairman, as Christopher Bell withdraws from the position to join ‘Nueva Codere‘, the business identity of Grupo Codere SA.

During his nearly eight years as Chair of XLMedia, Bell oversaw the group’s IPO on the London AIM in 2014 as well as ‘a number of successful strategic acquisitions’ – the firm notably secured takeovers of BlueClaw and Saturday Football Inc last year – and provided support throughout its business’ restructuring. 

XLMedia has confirmed that Bell – a former board member of Ladbrokes PLC, having served as Group CEO of the FTSE100 operator for four years – will continue to assist with the ‘orderly transfer’ to a new Chair before leaving his role ‘in due course’.

“It has been a privilege to chair XLMedia for almost eight years,” Bell remarked. “2022 marks the beginning of a leaner Group structure set to benefit from significant progress made in rebalancing the Group to have a greater focus on regulated high-growth markets like US sports. 

“It feels like the right time to step aside and let someone new support the business through its next phase of growth. I wish everyone in the Company and its shareholders every success for the future.”

Bell will assume the same position as Non-Executive Chairman at Codere, subject to the approval of the firm’s bondholders at its general meeting on 7 February, as the company looks to restructure its board to coordinate its new business plans. 

In addition to leaving affiliate publisher XLMedia, Bell will also vacate his position at LSE-listed gambling firm Rank Group Plc to focus on his new duties at Codere, as the company’s shareholders press for a break-up of its assets and following the suspension of its listing on the Bolsa Madrid Exchange last month. 

Commenting on Bell’s departure, Stuart Simms, CEO of XLMedia, said: “We are very grateful to Chris for his exceptional service to XLMedia. I would like to personally thank him for his practical support and wise counsel. 

“Chris has been very supportive as we have sought to restructure to become more agile and align the business with new growth markets – an initiative we will complete during the first half of this year – as well as integrating three hugely successful US acquisitions, which we believe will be pivotal to our long-term success.”

XLMedia’s search for a new Chair follows the aforementioned prominent acquisitions of last year, as the company looks to expand its presence in Europe by building on the takeover of BlueClaw.

The group aims to enhance its European Sports business by gaining a UK-based operations hub, with an added objective of driving ‘consistent SEO operations and digital PR best practices’ to apply across its wider portfolio.

Julie Markey, Non-Executive Director, added: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Chris for his significant contribution, dedication and commitment to XLMedia in his role as Chair and we wish him well in all of his future endeavours.”

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