Former Rank Group CEO Henry Birch Eyed for Entain Job

Online gambling giant Entain is considering the appointment of the ex-CEO of Britain’s biggest land-based casino group as a replacement for previous boss Jette Nygaard-Andersen, who resigned late last year.

Entain, Henry Birch, Dan Taylor, Rank Group
Henry Birch, above, addressing the Retail Week Live conference while CEO of the Very Group. He is believed to be one of a few names being considered by Entain for permanent CEO. The successful candidate may have to lead the company through a transformational chapter in its history. (Image: Retail Week)

Until 2018, Henry Birch was the head of the Rank Group, which owns the Grosvenor Casino chain, as well as the Mecca Bingo brand. After leaving Rank, he was CEO of online retail company The Very Group until stepping down in 2022.

Birch is among several top contenders for the job, according to sources who spoke to Sky News. Since Nygaard-Andersen’s departure, Entain has been led by interim CEO Rob Wood.

Private Equity Circling

The board is looking for someone to steady the ship after a few turbulent years for the company, which owns Ladbrokes, half of BetMGM, and numerous other international gambling brands. The new CEO may also be required to lead Entain through a partial or full acquisition.

Activist investors, including Eminence Capital founder Ricky Sandler, have built an increasingly prominent position in the company and have expressed frustration with its recent performance.

In March, Entain announced it was looking to offload several of its overseas brands so it can refocus on its core operations. The inference is that activists believe a leaner Entain would be in a better position to be sold or broken up.

Private equity giants Apollo Global Management and CVC Capital are rumored to be among those circling, and could be interested in acquiring some of its bigger brands should an extensive asset sale materialize, according to The Times of London.

Stock Slump

In 2021, Entain received takeover bids from DraftKings and MGM, its joint venture partner in BetMGM. Both proposals valued the group at a significantly higher price than its current market cap.

The company’s stock has halved in the last year, leaving it with a market capitalization of just under £5 billion ($6.2 billion). Some activists blame a series of questionable acquisitions for the slump. Under Nygaard-Andersen, Entain spent around $2 billion on largely misfiring regional-market brands, and the Danish executive’s resignation came amid rumors of “internal unrest.”

In addition to Birch, Dan Taylor, chief executive of Flutter Entertainment’s international operations, is also in the mix for the role. That’s according to Sky News sources, who added that a formal announcement on the appointment could be weeks or even months away.

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