GVC’s new CEO places £2m bet on betting firm’s future


Gambling operator GVC Holdings’ new CEO Shay Segev is placing a seven-figure bet on his company’s future success.

On Monday, GVC announced that its new chief executive had exercised options to boost his holdings in the company from 111k shares to just over 1.6m. Segev’s options entitled him to acquire the shares at the discounted price of £3.17, well below Monday’s opening price of £7.66.

Segev’s options, which are now fully exercised under the company’s 2016 Management Incentive Plan, required him to draw down a £2m loan from a ‘third party bank.’ Said bank received a pledge from Segev involving his GVC shares as security for this loan.  

Segev, who until last month was GVC’s chief operating officer, assumed the CEO position following the abrupt resignation of Kenny Alexander in July. Alexander came under sharp criticism in March 2019 when he and then-chairman Lee Feldman sold off the bulk of their GVC shares, reaping a combined windfall of nearly £20m.

Segev wasn’t the only GVC bigwig boosting their holdings on Monday. The company’s new chairman J M Barry Gibson added 18,700 shares to his existing 47,787, while audit committee chair Pierre Bouchot added 11,500 shares to his existing 27k and independent director Jette Nygaard-Andersen nearly doubled her holdings to 9,900 shares.

Like most UK gambling operators with a retail presence, GVC’s fortunes have taken a hit from COVID-19 restrictions and the suspension of major sports. But the company’s share price has recovered most of the losses suffered since the retail shutdown began in March, in part due to optimism regarding the company’s US-facing online gambling/sports betting joint venture with MGM Resorts.

Investors appeared unmoved by senior management’s display of confidence, as GVC’s shares closed out Monday’s trading essentially unchanged from their opening price, while the shares closed out Tuesday’s trading up less than 1% on lower than average volume.

Investors may have a right to be cautious, given the uncertainty surrounding regulatory probes into GVC’s operations. Less than a week following Alexander’s exit, the UK taxman announced that it was widening its probe into GVC’s former Turkey-facing operations, which the company sold in 2017.

GVC subsequently issued a statement disputing scuttlebutt that the tax probe was related to disgraced payment processor Wirecard, which recently collapsed after accountants detected massive fraud in its books. Wirecard was known for its role in processing online gambling payments, including in markets that frowned upon such activity.