GVC to Announce Gambling Veteran Barry Gibson as New Chairman

Former Playtech and William Hill director Barry Gibson is tipped to succeed Lee Feldman as chairman of Isle of Man-based gambling group GVC Holdings, according to a Sky News report.

The appointment of Mr. Gibson will mark the end of GVC’s seven-month search for a new chairman after the company announced Mr. Feldman’s departure earlier this year.

GVC will hope that the appointment of Mr. Gibson, a gambling industry veteran, will placate investors, who have been furious with the company’s management due to multiple scandals over the year that affected the company’s price.

The department of Mr. Feldman was announced shortly after he and GVC’s Chief Executive, Kenny Alexander, sold in March £20 million worth of company shares, practically halving their personal stakes. Many interpreted the sale as loss of confidence in GVC’s future, which drove the operator’s price down 20% in a single day.

Analysts believe that while it has decided to part ways with its chairman, the company is not likely to replace its CEO anytime soon.

Following the controversial share, Mr. Alexander said that he was confident in GVC’s future as a leading gambling operator. In August, he purchased back £5 million worth of company stock to reassure investors.

When Will Mr. Gibson Assume His New Role?

GVC is expected to announce the appointment of Mr. Gibson early next week. It is to be seen whether he would assume his role at or before the company’s annual general meeting next year.

As mentioned earlier, his appointment is hoped to reassure investors due to his experience in the industry. Mr. Gibson previously sat on the boards of gambling technology giant Playtech and British bookmaker William Hill. He also served as director of bwin.party Digital Entertainment right before the company was purchased by GVC in 2015.

Company investors previously demanded the appointment of a “heavyweight” chairman who would be able to counter Mr. Alexander. It is to be seen whether that would happen.

Mr. Gibson has served as chairman of home emergency repairs business HomeServe since 2010. Sources say he is likely to step down from his role in the near future.

He is set to join GVC at an extremely important time for the company as it is looking to gain foothold in the nascent US sports betting market. The gambling operator last year formed a betting joint venture with Las Vegas casino operator MGM Resorts International, through which it will be able to enter multiple states where sports betting is legal or is set to become legal in future.

In the UK, its other key market, GVC has been facing a lot of turbulence. The company needs to adjust to a newly implemented reduction of the maximum stake on the highly controversial but extremely profitable fixed-odds betting terminals. GVC owns Ladbrokes Coral, the owner of UK’s largest retail betting chain, which means that it would be among the companies to be hit the hardest by the FOBTs crackdown.

In addition, GVC’s Ladbrokes Coral busines was slapped a record £5.9 million fine by the UK Gambling Commission this summer over systematic failures to protect problem gamblers.

Source: Ladbrokes owner GVC places bet on Gibson as next chairman, Sky News

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