UK gambling giant Entain shakes up board amid criticism


Entain has confirmed the appointment of Ricky Sandler to a non-executive position on its board, following a period of turbulence at the blue-chip gambling company.

The UK gambling giant has several top brands within its portfolio including its 50/50 share in BetMGM as well as several European gambling heavyweights such as the traditional British high-street bookmaker Ladbrokes, and Bwin, whose key markets include Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

As reported by the Financial Times, Eminence Capital founder Sandler is an activist investor who has been critical of the Entain $750m (£594m) takeover of STS Holding – Poland’s largest bookmaker – due to the fresh share option that supported the buyout. He stated this was a “shareholder value-destroying strategy.”

Sandler’s appointment to the board had been mooted soon after Jette Nygaard-Andersen departed her role as chief executive at Entain following the resolution of the long-running bribery scandal it was mired in. In June last year, he penned a letter, as head of Eminence, to the board of directors at Entain, openly criticizing Nygaard-Andersen’s leadership.

With Sandler taking a seat at the table, it can be viewed as a move to allay the fears of other activist investors. They could be placated further as he is expected to help choose a further two new non-executive directors, whilst hedge funds Dendur Capital and Sached Heam Capital are known to have wanted him on the board after they recently invested in Entain.

Future intentions for Entain

Sandler said of his appointment, “Entain is a robust business with market-leading brands, a unique technology platform, and enviable positions in key geographies around the world.”

“I look forward to working with my fellow directors to help Entain achieve long-term success and create lasting value for its shareholders.”

He previously pointed to the joint initiative with MGM Resorts International as a valuable asset which could open the door to a potential deal to sell its stake in BetMGM and following the contested acquisition of STS, such a move would consolidate the company’s finances.

It is understood that Eminence currently holds around 4.3 percent of Entain’s shares, but Sandler’s board appointment means that figure now cannot exceed eight percent.


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