What Does Kenny Alexander’s Departure Mean For GVC’s US Ambitions?

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GVC Alexander departure

GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander, one of the most respected executives in the gambling industry, is leaving the company after 13 years.

Alongside a trading update this morning, Alexander said he was standing down to spend more time with his family.

He will be succeeded by current GVC COO Shay Segev. That switch will take place after the close of business on Friday.

Alexander leaves GVC in good shape

“I have given 13 years to GVC and I now want to give some time to my family,” Alexander said. “I have enjoyed every minute of helping to grow GVC into the business that it is today, and am proud of all that has been achieved. 

“We have the best people, brands and technology in our sector, and our joint venture in the US with MGM Resorts positions us very strongly for growth in that hugely exciting market.”

Alexander is best known for his deal-making and risk-taking style that grew GVC from a small business to a FTSE100 giant with 25,000 employees.

During his tenure, Alexander orchestrated the acquisitions of major brands like Ladbrokes Coral and bwin.

GVC share price dips

Alexander said: “I have spent the last four months working from home and reflecting on my future plans, and this feels like the right moment.

“Whilst it is never easy to hand the baton on, it has been very clear for a number of years now that Shay is the right person to succeed me. He is an outstanding leader with a clear strategic vision and unrivalled technological expertise.”

GVC shares fell around 5% on Thursday morning despite a strong trading update, reflecting Alexander’s perceived importance to the company.

Peel Hunt analyst Ivor Jones noted: “CEO Kenny Alexander is leaving but the remaining top team is well placed to continue GVCs’ excellent execution of its business plan. Perhaps his departure signals that swashbuckling M&A is less likely. But with the US market opportunity continuing to expand, GVC can still achieve positive transformational change.”

Who is GVC’s new top man?

GVC’s new top man Segev is also well regarded around the industry, having overseen several successful migrations following Alexander’s acquisitions.

He was formerly COO at Playtech from 2008 to 2015.

Deutsche Bank analyst Simon Davies noted Segev was a “ready-made replacement” who would ensure a smooth transition.

Segev himself said: “Kenny has been a fantastic colleague and leader during the four years I have worked with him. Thanks to his stewardship I am succeeding him at a time when the business is in robust financial health with an exceptional team and exciting opportunities ahead of it, especially in the US.”

Focus shifts to US sports betting

The change comes just days after GVC pledged to up its investment in US sports betting, with Alexander warning “the kid gloves are coming off.”

And analysts saw no reason to downgrade the outlook for BetMGM despite the change in leadership.

“Success in the US is key,” noted Peel Hunt’s Ivor Jones. “With the core online business clearly performing very well, investor attention may shift towards the opportunity in the US. GVC made it clear it would invest ‘whatever it takes’ to gain a leading market share. We believe the upside potential in the US for GVC is not reflected in its share price.”

GVC forecast H1 EBITDA of $427 million-$438 million for its wider business.