Entain appoint Jette Nygaard-Andersen as new chief executive
The owner of Ladbrokes and Coral has acted quickly to put a new chief executive in place following one of the most turbulent periods in the company's history.
Jette Nygaard-Andersen has taken over at the helm of Entain with immediate effect, succeeding Shay Segev, who had himself only held the position since July last year.
The news came as Entain delivered a strong trading update and just a few days after it was revealed that US casino giant MGM Resorts International had walked away from a takeover approach for the company.
Nygaard-Andersen, 52, had emerged as the leading candidate for the job last week following the shock news that Segev was leaving Entain for global sports streaming company DAZN.
She takes up the role, which comes with an annual basic salary of £750,000, having joined Entain as an independent non-executive director in December 2019.
Entain chairman Barry Gibson said: "We're extremely fortunate to have such an outstanding candidate and ready-made CEO in Jette. She's already deeply immersed in Entain's strategy and clearly shares our ambition to be the world leader in sports betting and gaming entertainment."
Nygaard-Andersen said she was excited to have the opportunity to take Entain forward.
She added: "I am deeply wedded to Entain's commitment to providing industry-leading levels of player protection, and to its philosophy that the most sustainable business in our industry will be the most successful business in our industry. I cannot wait to get started."
Who is Jette Nygaard-Andersen?
New Entain chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen is a relative newcomer to the gambling industry, having joined the company's board a little over a year ago.
The Dane, who has a degree in business, finance and economics from Copenhagen University, has more than 20 years' experience in senior roles across the media, sports and entertainment sectors.
From 2003 until March 2019 she held a number of senior leadership positions at Stockholm-based digital entertainment company Modern Times Group AB, including being chief executive of pay TV, broadcasting and, latterly, chief executive of digital video content.
Her varied CV also includes six years as a senior strategy consultant for Accenture, two years as chief executive of global satellite communications company Viasat AB, a spell as chair of Danish esports organisation Astralis and a current position on the board of Copenhagen-listed medical technology company Coloplast.
Gavin Kelleher, gaming and leisure analyst at stockbrokers Goodbody, said of her appointment: "I think the fact that she has been on the board for over a year helps with a seamless transition.
"She knows the business, she knows the industry and she was part of the board which put together the strategy that was presented last November, so she is a believer in that strategy."
In other leadership changes Rob Wood, Entain’s chief financial officer, has also been made deputy chief executive and will now take responsibility for Entain's retail operations and M&A activities, while chief operating officer Sandeep Tiku will join the board later this year.
The news came as Entain reported that full year online net gaming revenue (NGR) for 2020 had grown by 27 per cent, with the fourth quarter surging by 41 per cent, the company's 20th consecutive quarter of double-digit online NGR growth. Total group NGR growth for the quarter was seven per cent.
BetMGM, Entain's joint venture in the burgeoning US market with MGM, enjoyed revenue growth of 130 per cent.
Entain's retail estate in the UK, Italy, Belgium and Ireland was hit by the closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with NGR in UK betting shops falling by 36 per cent over the year.
However, the company said when shops were allowed to open: "We saw trade rapidly return to within single digits of pre-pandemic levels."
Segev, who will remain available to the company until July 8 "to facilitate an orderly transition", said: "While the short-term outlook remains uncertain as a result of the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, we have entered 2021 with good momentum and remain as confident as ever in Entain’s longer-term prospects."
Entain's share price was up 8p at 1,278p at the close on Thursday.
This year began with MGM approaching Entain with an £8.1 billion takeover offer, which the company rejected as having "significantly" undervalued them.
Analysts at Davy Stockbrokers said on Thursday: "While we are surprised by the outcome of the MGM process, we also view Entain’s standalone prospects as superior to those of any of the proposed enlarged MGM entity.
"The key pillars of that standalone thesis are continued earnings momentum and a new CEO intent on implementing the group’s recently refreshed global growth strategy. If it can demonstrate meaningful progress in the US and execute on the increasingly worldwide online opportunity, the board’s recent conviction should prove to be well founded."
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