Date: 13.05.2024

by Kajetan Sawicz

Henry Birch Emerges as Leading Candidate for Entain CEO Role

Henry Birch, former chief executive of Rank Group, is reportedly a top contender for the CEO position at gambling giant Entain, according to recent reports.

Extensive Industry Experience

Birch is well-known in the gambling sector, having previously served as CEO of William Hill Online, where he developed significant expertise in digital gaming. His career also includes leadership roles at Leisure & Gaming plc and BettingCorp, showcasing his deep industry knowledge.

At Very Group, an online retailer owned by the Barclay family, Birch led the company to surpass the £2 billion annual sales milestone, demonstrating his capability in driving growth and operational excellence. These skills could be crucial for steering Entain towards stability and growth.

Entain’s Current Challenges

Entain’s search for a new CEO comes during a turbulent period for the company. Its stock price has halved over the past year, reducing its market capitalization to just under £5 billion. The decline is attributed to boardroom upheaval and regulatory challenges across various international markets.

The company has faced criticism from activist investors urging the board to appoint a leader with substantial gambling industry experience.

Entain has been entangled in several regulatory issues, including a significant £615 million fine related to bribery at its former Turkish subsidiary, a situation that predated Entain’s acquisition of the business. These challenges have compounded the company’s need for strong leadership.

In an effort to streamline operations, Entain is pursuing the sale of non-core assets, including its PartyPoker brand and the Netherlands-based BetCity subsidiary, acquired for £398 million last year. The company is focusing on its core brands, such as Ladbrokes and Coral, and its BetMGM joint venture in the US market.

Future M&A Possibilities

Entain’s journey is further complicated by its past interactions with MGM Resorts. In 2021, MGM attempted to acquire Entain at a significantly higher valuation than its current share price, but the bid was ultimately rejected.

Analysts speculate that MGM may revisit the possibility of acquiring Entain, adding complexity to the company’s strategic decisions and the selection of its next CEO.

Birch’s Potential Impact

The appointment of Henry Birch as Entain’s new CEO could mark a turning point for the company. Birch’s deep industry expertise and proven leadership skills are expected to help Entain regain its footing and restore investor confidence.

His ability to lead complex organizations through challenging times could be instrumental in navigating Entain’s current issues and driving future growth.

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