When Shay Segev resigned as chief executive of Entain just days after the firm rejected a takeover bid from MGM Resorts, heads were scratched and alarm levels were raised.
Were the two things connected? And if they were what did that mean for the future of the company?
According to reports online It turns out that Segev had received a better offer from sports streaming service DAZN, with Entain chairman Barry Gibson admitting publicly that ‘we cannot match the rewards that he has been promised.’
He will serve a six-month notice period, but at a potentially turbulent time Entain will want to announce Segev’s successor as soon as possible. Some online betting sites are running a book on who will be the new CEO, and MGM’s Adam Greenblatt was the hot favourite from the word go.
But now it is being widely reported that Jette Nygaard-Andersen, a non executive director on the board of Entain, is poised to become the first female CEO of a listed worldwide gambling brand.
Smashing the Glass Ceiling
According to various news sources, the deal to appoint Nygaard-Andersen is all but confirmed, and is likely to be announced next week in the quickest of turnarounds. It is believed that she will be the permanent chief exec, rather than an interim appointment.
Talk about smashing the ceiling in a male-dominated industry – the Dane would become the first female chief of a publicly traded gambling company, joining Denise Coates, the head of sports betting and casino operator bet365, at the top of the game.
Nygaard-Andersen has been top exec for a number of years, running a number of significant Scandinavian firms including Modern Times Group and AP Moeller-Maersk.
And she may get the most almighty of decisions to help facilitate early on in the job, with many expecting MGM to return with an increased offer for the firm prior to the February 1 cut-off point.
The casino behemoth is said to want to cash in on online sports betting both in the US and overseas, and if they could persuade Entain’s shareholders to part company they would seize a significant chunk of the UK market straight off the bat. They would gain ownership of Coral, Ladbrokes and bwin, plus the Gala brands, PartyCasino, FoxyBingo and more.
These are increasingly difficult times for UK operators, with William Hill’s European assets poached by Caesars Entertainment a potential precursor to more takeover bids from US firms looking to utilsie their expertise in the American market, which is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years. Factor in possible regulatory reform, with the UK government revisiting the Gambling Act (2005), plus the possibility of enhanced affordability checks and shareholders at Entain may start to become more receptive to a deal with MGM if an offer that matches their valuation is put on the table.
If an improved offer is made and subsequently accepted, it’s as yet unknown if MGM would keep Entain’s chief exec in position or appoint their own internal successor.