UK competition watchdog okays Stars Group, Sky Bet union


stars-group-sky-bet-online-gambling-deal-approvedThe UK’s competition watchdog has okayed The Stars Group’s (TSG) takeover of Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG), while the latter company has named a new CEO.

On Thursday, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it had cleared TSG’s $4.7b acquisition of SBG. The deal, which was announced in April and completed in July, prompted the CMA to issue an enforcement order freezing the integration process while it investigated whether the deal was a good thing for consumers.

The CMA’s full decision has yet to be released, but TSG (the parent company of PokerStars) issued a statement celebrating the good news and announcing a raft of new senior management assignments “to execute [SBG’s] integration plans, including the delivery of expected cost synergies.”

This executive shuffle will see SBG’s current CEO Richard Flint shift to executive chairman, while SBG’s CFO Ian Proctor has been elevated to fill the CEO’s seat. Also, former director of SBG’s gaming brands Conor Gant is now chief operating officer. Grant will report to Proctor, while Flint and Proctor will report to TSG CEO Rafi Ashkenazi.

TSG used the happy news to announce two other senior appointments. SBG’s former chief technology officer Andy Burton has been named VP, Global Sports Platform and will oversee development of TSG’s international sports betting platform (the combo of Sky Bet and TSG’s own BetStars brand). Finally, SBG’s director of corporate development Vaughan Lewis has been named TSG’s group director of investment and corporate communications.

Ashkenazi hailed the game of executive musical chairs, saying the switches “position us well to deliver our strategy to become the world’s favorite iGaming destination.” Flint said the new management structure would allow SBG “to maintain our unique culture … and continue delivering market share gains in the UK online betting and gaming market.”