GVC shuffles board after investor revolt; Playtech sells out

TAGs: GVC Holdings, Playtech

gvc-board-shuffle-shareholder-revoltUK-listed gambling operator GVC Holdings has buckled under a shareholder revolt over executive compensation, while gambling tech outfit Playtech sells off its entire GVC stake.

GVC held its annual general meeting in Gibraltar on Wednesday, and the company’s stellar results over the past year were overshadowed by the number of votes opposing (a) the company’s controversial remuneration report, and (b) the continued directorship of the man who oversaw that report.

Following the vote, non-executive director Peter Isola opted to step down from the board’s remuneration committee. Around 42.6% of GVC shareholders voted against Isola’s re-election as director, while nearly 44% voted against approving the remuneration report he oversaw.

The board also bid goodbye to Will Whitehorn, who served on GVC’s audit, nominations and remuneration committees. GVC added Virginia McDowell, the former president and CEO of US-based Isle of Capri Casinos and the current vice-chair of Global Gaming Women, as a new independent non-exec director.

GVC chairman Lee Feldman said McDowell’s history in the US gaming market “should prove invaluable as we pursue the potential in the US for significant expansion in the regulated sports betting market and online gaming.”

McDowell will serve on GVC’s audit, remuneration and corporate social responsibility committees. The latter is newly formed, and is a direct reaction to the increased regulatory (and media) scrutiny in many of GVC’s core markets, particularly in the UK.

In related news, Playtech has sold off the 3.4% stake it held in GVC via the tech provider’s previous holdings in Ladbrokes Coral Group, which GVC formally acquired earlier this year. Playtech will reportedly enjoy a return of nearly £200m from the sale, which will be complete by June 11. Playtech says it will use the windfall to help pay off debt related to its recent acquisition of Italian gaming operato Snaitech or help facilitate other merger & acquistion activity.

Playtech was reportedly moved to sell after GVC’s shares underwent an uptick following the US Supreme Court overturning the federal sports betting ban last month. GVC announced last week that it was “in discussions” with Playtech to extend the services agreement the tech provider had with Ladbrokes Coral, which is set to expire in 2021.


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