UK gambling outfit Gala Coral may be headed for a public floatation but CEO Andy Hornby (pictured far right) is being asked to don water wings before being thrown overboard. In April, Hornby was slammed by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards for the reckless financial trading that led to the 2008 collapse of Halifax Bank of Scotland, which required a £20.5b taxpayer-funded rescue plan in order to keep from going the way of the dodo. The Commission recommended that Hornby never again be allowed to hold a senior role in any publicly traded firm.
When rumors of Coral’s possible float surfaced last month, Commission member Susan Kramer said Hornby should “show a sense of honor and step down.” Kramer said execs like Hornby “should recognize they are very lucky” not to be sitting in jail at the moment. Labour MP Chris Leslie echoed these concerns, saying it would be “highly galling” to see Hornby at the helm of another public company. More damning details on Hornby’s role at HBOS are said to be contained in a report into the bank’s collapse scheduled to be released later this year by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Ladbrokes CEO Richard Glynn (on the left) is also under attack, but the armies besieging Glynn’s castle aren’t led by vengeful politicians but by investors irate over Lads’ lackluster earnings. It doesn’t help that Glynn earned a £2.4m bonus in March after news of Lads’ five-year deal with software outfit Playtech pushed Lads’ stock up to 243p. But multiple profit warnings have since eroded the hype and erased nearly a third of Lads’ share value. On the weekend, the Sunday Times claimed Lads chairman Peter Erskine had informed investors that Glynn had been given until mid-2014 to turn things around or be forced to walk the plank (although he’ll likely do so carrying a multi-million pound life preserver).
Clearly feeling the heat, Glynn issued his own warning to senior staffers, telling them the company “simply cannot afford to miss expectations,” especially when those expectations have already been significantly lowered. As viewed by eGaming Review, Glynn’s recently issued internal memo says Lads isn’t as bad off as the media is currently portraying it, just as it was “not yet worthy” of the praise it received when Glynn was happily cashing that multimillion pound check in the spring.
Glynn told his staff he was less bothered by the media criticism than by how Lads’ staffers viewed the company they called home. Glynn said public confidence in Lads had been “dented” but the way to smooth out those dents would be for Lads to “overachieve in every respect.” Problem is, even if Playtech manages to buck up Lads’ underachieving digital offering, the impact of the UK’s new point of consumption tax (POCT) may negate any gains. And with William Hill CEO Ralph Topping promising to “shove a hosepipe” down the throats of struggling rivals and “turn the tap on,” overachieving may not be enough to save Glynn from drowning.