Per Widerström, 888 CEO

888 enters new leadership era as Per Widerström CEO tenure begins

Per Widerström has taken full leadership of 888 Holdings, having first been announced as the incoming CEO of the multi-brand international betting group in July.

Leadership responsibilities were being temporarily filled by Lord Mendelsohn, who has now returned to his post as Non-Executive Chair after serving as Executive Chair since January, having taken up the role following the departure of CEO Itai Pazner.

Widerström departed his prior role as CEO of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) betting group Fortuna Entertainment Group – which he had held since 2014 – back in January before being announced as Pazner’s replacement at 888 six months later.

He had also been concurrently serving as a Corporate Director at Stockholm-listed betting affiliate media publisher Catena Media since 2019. However, upon securing the leadership role at 888, he also vacated this role.

Commenting on his CEO appointment at 888 during the summer, Widerström said: “I am delighted and honoured to become the Group’s new CEO. Following 888’s combination with William Hill, the Group has a world-class portfolio of betting and gaming brands, an outstanding technology platform, and an exceptional team.”

He takes the reins at LSE-listed 888 during a transformative and somewhat tricky time for the company, with the group having been significantly expanded by its acquisition of William Hill International from Caesars Entertainment for £2.2bn in 2021.

Whilst hugely growing its business – in particular its retail presence via William HIll’s 1,400 strong high-street estate, as well as its igaming operations via the Mr Green subsidiary – the takeover has come with some difficulties for 888.

Notably, the firm has onboarded more debt as a result of financing the transaction and also had to account for a UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) imposed penalty of £19.5m against William Hill for a historical licensing failure which occurred prior to the acquisition.

Separately, the UKGC apparently placed 888’s licence under review in July due to a HMRC investigation into Entain’s former Turkish business, when the group traded as GVC Holdings.

This related to 888 because at the time of the Turkish discrepancies GVC was led by the current board of FS Gaming Investments LLC, which had proposed that they also take the reins of 888.

However, 888 has now severed all ties with FS Gaming and with the onset of Widerström’s tenure as CEO any concerns regarding leadership of the company will likely have been soothed.

Speaking to SBC ahead of his induction into the SBC Hall of Fame last month, 888’s incoming CEO was confident that ‘the best is yet to come’. He also outlined that he would ‘hit the ground running from day one’ after taking on leadership.

The company is due to announce its Q3 2023 trading results this Wednesday (18 October), having set debt reduction and growth in EBITDA as key targets to hit by 2025.

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