888 Holdings has announced its most significant directorate change since the William Hill acquisition, seeing CEO Itai Pazner vacate his leadership position.
The firm explained in an update this morning that Pazner, who has served as CEO since January 2019, will also step down as an Executive DIrector of the FTSE100 gambling group.
As the company initiates a search for a new CEO, current Non-Executive Chair Lord Mendelsohn will take on Executive Chair responsibilities. In a further morning update to the London Stock Exchange (LSE), 888 announced that Andria Vidler will serve as the company’s “Chair of the ESG Committee with immediate effect”.
Lord Mendelsohn remarked: “On behalf of the Board I would like to thank Itai for his significant contributions to the business over more than 20 years, including the last four as CEO.
“Itai has played a very important role in building a business with powerful proprietary technology, and has overseen successful early stages to the William Hill integration process. We wish him well in his future endeavours.”
Pazner first joined 888 in January 2001 as a marketing manager before climbing the company’s ranks to hold regional management positions and eventually two successive Senior Vice President roles.
In these capacities he was head of EMEA and the UK, followed by Head of the Global Regional Division, before joining the Board in November 2019 as Chief Operating Officer.
As Mendelsohn referenced, Pazner has worked with and held leadership of 888 during a period of global expansion for the company, which has seen it became one of the most recognisable names in international online betting.
However, last year’s takeover of William Hill’s non-US assets from Caesars Entertainment was a costly affair for the company, although substantially enlarging its operations and securing a large retail estate of high-street betting shops.
With a new year on the horizon, in December 2021 the company set itself some key long-term financial targets – including £2bn in revenue by 2025 and adjusted EBITDA margin of 23%.
888 also set paying off loans of up to £347m as a key objective, having closed 2022 with debts of £1.8bn, most of which was related to the William Hill transaction.
In an update to investors two weeks ago, 888 revealed that post-close trading results saw full year 2022 revenue fall 3% to £1.85bn (2021: £1.907bn), with an expected EBITDA of £305-316m – but the firm remains confident in its ability to achieve the aforementioned targets.
Compounding matters for the company, 888 also revealed this morning that it has suspended VIP activities in ‘certain .com markets’ in the Middle East due to AML and compliance concerns.
The operator said that ‘certain best practices have not been followed’ regarding KYC and AML processes, and that VIP customer accounts have been suspended while internal investigations are conducted.
According to the Board’s estimates, this will cost 888 around 3% of its total revenues, should suspensions remain in place, but added that the deficiencies have only been identified in this region.
“The Board and I take the Group’s compliance responsibilities incredibly seriously,” Lord Mendelsohn commented.
“When we were alerted to issues with some of 888’s VIP customers, the Board took decisive actions. We will be uncompromising in our approach to compliance as we build a strong and sustainable business.”