Expect William Hill to be active in M&A after the board confirms Philip Bowcock as CEO
Legal Sports Report

William Hill Confirms Bowcock As CEO: The Finance Expert Replaces A ‘Natural Bookie’

William Hill CEO
UK-based sports betting operator William Hill confirmed that interim CEO Philip Bowcock will be the permanent CEO with immediate effect.

Bowcock was formerly William Hill’s CFO with a strong background in retail, leisure and entertainment. In response to the news, he said:

“I am proud to be chosen to lead William Hill, a business that millions of customers trust and a brand that is synonymous with betting. During my time at the helm, I have had the opportunity to lead a passionate, talented and committed team and we have made considerable operational progress in recent months. The team and I are excited by the opportunity to keep improving our position in all our key markets whilst delivering a great experience for our customers.”

Bowcock proved he is worthy of the job

The decision to confirm the appointment will come as no surprise to investors. Since Bowcock took the helm, he fought off a takeover bid from 888 Holdings and the Rank Group. He also mounted an ambitious plan to merge with Amaya.

Meanwhile he has overseen the recovery of William Hill’s online business. Poor performance online prompted the removal of his predecessor, James Henderson.

Finance expertise is vital in the current corporate environment

More than good performance in post is involved in the board’s decision.

William Hill Chairman Gareth Davis said:

“Since his appointment as Interim CEO last July, Philip has driven the business forward at real pace and we have seen important progress across our Online, Retail and international businesses over that time. Our recent results show that William Hill is now in a stronger position and Philip has outlined a clear plan to continue that momentum into the future.”

William Hill outlined its “clear plan” in a statement to investors after the talks with Amaya broke down:

“The Group has continued to focus on the four priorities set out by Interim CEO Philip Bowcock – online, technology, efficiencies and international – to deliver value for shareholders and will also continue to consider strategic alternatives where they have the potential to create shareholder value.”

At the time Legal Sports Report wrote its own analysis of William Hill’s options for growth. They included the possibility of future mergers or acquisitions.

In choosing Bowcock, whose experience is first and foremost in corporate finance, the board is positioning William Hill to be capable of expanding the business by acquisition, or fighting off any future takeover attempts.

William Hill doesn’t need a natural bookie

Bowcock took over as interim when the board of directors ousted Henderson in July 2016.

When Henderson was appointed, Davis described him as a “ natural bookie.”

Henderson was the group director of operations, with 29 years of service at William Hill.

Bowcock has only been with William Hill since November 2015. He has less than 18 months experience in the gambling industry, his previous appointments being with:

  • Cineworld Group Plc;
  • Luminar plc, which owns bars and nightclubs;
  • Barratt Developments which develops residential property;
  • and UK retailer Tesco where he was the property financial director.

Bowcock’s CV could not be more different from that of Henderson. William Hill is sending a strong signal that the next few years will need a finance man at the helm much more than a betting man.

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Joss Wood
- Joss Wood, a former editor of Poker Industry Pro, has long focussed on regulated online gambling issues and in particular the international market. For LegalSportsReport.com, Joss turns his attention primarily to regulated sports betting markets. With a degree in English from the University of Birmingham as well as a master’s degree in organisational development from the University of Manchester, Joss’s career has taken him from the British Army into the world of business and finance. For seven years he played poker professionally.