Entain CEO Shay Segev has sensationally quit his job at the online gambling giant formerly known as GVC after just six months in the role. His departure comes right in the midst of $11 billion takeover negotiations with MGM Resorts International.
It seems Segev’s head has been turned by a better offer, with Entain somberly admitting in an official statement that it “cannot match the rewards that he has been promised.”
London’s Evening Standard reports that the 44-year-old executive has accepted the position of CEO of DAZN, the sports-streaming platform owned by British billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik. DAZN has been described as “the Spotify for sports,” and the Standard calls it “one of the most successful UK tech ‘unicorns.’”
But the timing could not be worse for Entain, which has reached a critical point in its flirtation with the US casino giant.
$11 Billion Not Enough
MGM made its move for Entain on Monday last week. Its proposal of 0.6 shares for each Entain share values the British company at $11.06 billion. But the Entain board said the bid “significantly undervalues the Company and its prospects.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Entain had previously rebuffed a $10 billion all-cash offer from the casino giant.
Last week, as Entain played hard to get, MGM’s biggest shareholder InterActiveCorp (IAC) raised the stakes, offering to invest $1 billion to get the deal over the line.
Segev’s departure could leave Entain lacking leadership at a time when it sorely needs strategic direction. In an official statement Monday, Segev praised the “great team of leaders” at Entain, intimating that he was leaving the company in good hands.
I will be sad to leave the company after five years, but I have been offered a role which offers me a very different type of opportunity…” Segev said.
“I also want to emphasize that the recent interest from MGM Resorts has had absolutely no bearing on my decision, and I fully support the board’s decision to reject their proposal.”
Segev took the reins at Entain, then GVC, in July last year following another shock departure, that of his predecessor, Kenny Alexander.
Over 13 years, Alexander had transformed GVC from a bit-part player listed on the AIM into one of the biggest gambling companies in the world, listed on the FTSE 100. This he did through a series of bold acquisitions that, in that time, saw GVC absorb some of the biggest European gambling brands, including bwin.party and Ladbrokes Coral.
But despite his promise of an extra billion in financial backing, IAC chairman Barry Diller expressed doubts last week about whether Entain will be swallowed up by an even bigger fish.
“It would be great if MGM could do this [deal] with Entain. But whether it happens or not, I am skeptical and if it doesn’t, I am sanguine,” he told the Financial Times last week.
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