(Adds background on new board members)
By Keith Weir
LONDON May 22 An activist American investment
group agreed to take a seat on the board of online gambling
company bwin.party on Thursday after a compromise deal
following weeks of verbal sparring.
The agreement headed off an expected clash at the company's
annual meeting in Gibraltar where investor SpringOwl, which has
a 5 percent stake in bwin.party, had proposed four nominees for
SpringOwl said it had nominated Daniel Silvers to take the
board place to which it was entitled after buying a stake in the
company earlier this year.
Bwin.party has also agreed to consider SpringOwl nominee
Michael Fertik, a Silicon Valley technology specialist, as a
candidate for a board role under a management plan to bring in
"I am pleased to be able to demonstrate common ground with
SpringOwl and welcome its support," said bwin.party chairman
SpringOwl founder Jason Ader, a former Wall Street gaming
analyst, said the agreement followed very constructive talks
with new chairman Yea.
"What I want is a higher share price and what is best for
the company," Ader told Reuters. "Our view is not that we'd like
to see this stock at two pounds but we're looking for three or
Ader said he was a long-term investor.
Bwin.party shares traded 1.5 percent lower at 117.3p by 1300
GMT, valuing the company at 970 million pounds.
Fertik founded tech company Reputation.com which helps
people defends their names online. Ader believes he is the
perfect candidate to fill bwin.party's stated need for a
director with expertise in digital consumer businesses.
Silvers, who will join the board, is a long-term associate
of Ader, the two having first worked together at bank Bear
Bwin.party is the product of a 2010 merger between sports
betting group Bwin and online poker group PartyGaming.
The shares have tumbled since the merger was announced and
SpringOwl says management had failed to extract rewards from
combining the businesses.
Seeking to take the initiative, bwin.party last week came up
with its own plan to replace a third of its board by hiring
three new directors.
SpringOwl withdrew the four nominees it had put up for
election to the board and the annual meeting took less than a
quarter of an hour to conclude.
One sign of shareholder unease with management was that
16.8 percent of the votes cast failed to support the company's
remuneration policy. However, the vast majority of the votes
would have been registered before the compromise deal with Ader
(Additional reporting by Peter Schirmer in Gibraltar; editing
by Tom Pfeiffer)