888 Holdings has announced that its chief executive Gigi Levy has stepped down “to pursue other interests.” The company also says the 39-year-old Levy, who has been top dog at 888 since 2007, will remain on the company’s board and stay on to assist in the handoff to his successor. Brian Mattingley, deputy chairman and non-executive director, will “work closely with management on all aspects of the business” pending the appointment of a new CEO.
A report in the Sunday Times suggests Levy quit the firm after becoming frustrated at 888’s inability to reach a consolidation deal with another gaming company. 888 Holdings has been in discussion with Ladbrokes for five months now, but the two sides can’t quite seem to make it to the altar. Ladbrokes had initially offered to buy 888 at 70p per share, which would have valued 888 at £240m. Just a week ago, Ladbrokes were said to be preparing to up their offer, but no joy yet. An 888 spokesperson said Levy’s departure “had no bearing on the takeover talks with Ladbrokes, discussions are continuing.” Prior to the discussions with Ladbrokes, 888 had discussed merging with Bwin, who ultimately grew tired of the lack of progress and secured a deal with PartyGaming. In January, Playtech was mentioned as a possible dance partner, but again, nothing concrete materialized from the talks.
The Times report also claimed Levy had been having disagreements with the Israel-based Ben Yitzhak and Shaken families, 888’s founders and controlling shareholders, over the company’s direction. 888 recently released disappointing 2010 numbers that saw earnings drop 37%. Stay tuned to CalvinAyre.com for more details on this story as they become available.