Entain Elects Nygaard-Andersen CEO

Following the shock departure of Shay Segev, Entain has named Jette Nygaard-Andersen as its new CEO. In doing so, Nygaard-Andersen is to become the first female boss of a major British gambling group. Meanwhile, MGM Resorts has walked away from its bid to buy Entain, after its initial offer of £8.1 billion was rejected.

Skyrise casinos and palm trees in Las Vegas.

MGM Resorts, one of Las Vegas’s leading casino operators, has withdrawn its £8.1 billion offer for Entain. ©David Guerrero/Pexels

2021 Brings Change

Ladbrokes Coral owner, Entain plc, has confirmed that it has chosen Jette Nygaard-Andersen for the top job of CEO. After a month of turbulence, her appointment is expected to bring stability back to the sports betting and online gaming group. As she steps up, former CEO Shay Segev begins the long process of his exit.

Segev will be on hand to assist with the transition until July 8th, after which he will start a new job with DAZN. He will join James Rushton as co-CEO at the leading sports streaming subscription service. However, his departure from Entain has come as a surprise to many, as he only took over from his predecessor Kenny Alexander last July.

Following an announcement from Entain, Nygaard-Andersen will act as CEO with immediate effect. CFO Rob Wood will also become Deputy CEO alongside his present role. COO Sandeep Tiku is also set to be appointed to the Board at a later juncture this year. In response to her appointment, Nygaard-Andersen expressed her thanks at being chosen for the role, stating:

“I am very excited to have the opportunity of continuing the extraordinary momentum that Entain has in its existing markets, as well as helping it enter new regulated markets and reach new audiences. I am delighted that Rob has agreed to take on broader responsibilities and that the importance of our proprietary technology is recognised through Sandeep’s appointment to the Board.”

She also spoke of her commitment to Entain’s ethos of boosting player protections and leading the industry with more sustainable business practices. Nygaard-Andersen’s progression to CEO follows a expansive career with over 20 years of experience in various roles. She joined the Board at Entain in 2019 as an independent non-executive director, and has been pivotal in driving the company’s growth and sustainability strategy. Before that, she worked in sectors including entertainment, media and sport.

She has also been at the forefront of digital businesses that have driven technology forwards and offered consumers products in video and mobile gaming, social media and esports. This experience will be crucial to the future success of Entain in a rapidly shifting marketplace. Entain chairman, Barry Gibson, explained why she was the obvious choice for the job, saying:

“We are extremely fortunate to have such an outstanding candidate and readymade CEO in Jette. She is already deeply immersed in Entain’s strategy, and clearly shares our ambition to be the world-leader in sports betting and gaming entertainment.”

MGM Withdraws Bid

CFO and now Deputy CEO, Rob Wood has been with Entain since its days as GVC, before the company underwent a radical rebrand under departing CEO, Shay Segev. Wood spent six years as CFO of Entain’s UK Retail division. As such, he has been integral in paving the way for the company’s new strategy and ensuring good financial results. In his newly expanded role, he has been granted responsibility over all Retail operations and M&A activities.

Sandeep Tiku joined Entain in 2014, spending four years as Group Chief Technology Officer. After Kenny Alexander stood down in July 2020, he was named Group COO. His rise through the company has seen him lead the way on developing a leading proprietary technology platform, as well as incorporating the Group’s intake of Ladbrokes, Coral and bwin.party.

Nygaard-Andersen’s new appointment to the role of CEO comes as MGM Resort’s takeover attempt draws to a close. Earlier this January, the US casino operator put forward a substantial bid worth £8.1 billion for Entain. With the sports betting market opening up in America, the expertise of British betting companies has become a hot commodity, exemplified when Caesars paid £2.9 billion for William Hill last year.

Perhaps emboldened by the demand, the Board at Entain rejected MGM’s bid, claiming that it significantly undervalued the company. If Entain was hoping for a higher bid, it was out of luck. Entain’s shares fell by 20% with the news that MGM had decided to walk away from discussions without agreeing a deal.

Nevertheless, Entain is still one of the largest betting and gaming groups in the world. Its successful portfolio of brands includes Gala, Foxy Bingo and Partypoker, alongside Coral, Ladbrokes and bwin. Entain is one of just two gambling firms currently listed on the FTSE 100, alongside Flutter Entertainment. Some pundits have gone as far as to praise Entain’s rejection of MGM’s bid as sensible long-term planning.

In an ever-shifting industry, Entain’s future looks bright. It has just released a trading update for its fourth quarter, and the results are promising. Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, Entain’s finances performed well throughout 2020. In particular, its online sales increased by 41%, and the joint US venture with BetMGM is now live in 11 states. Closing what is likely to be one of the outgoing CEO’s last announcements, Segev said:

“While the short-term outlook remains uncertain as a result of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, we have entered 2021 with good momentum and remain as confident as ever in Entain’s longer term prospects.”

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