Bookmaker 888 tumbles as CEO quits, Middle East VIP service suspended

A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London
A branded sign is displayed outside a William Hill betting shop in London, Britain July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/
  • CEO Itai Pazner to step down immediately
  • VIP activities suspended in Middle East
  • Shares tumble as much as 14.4%

Jan 30 (Reuters) - 888 Holdings (888.L) Chief Executive Officer Itai Pazner will step down immediately, the British bookmaker said on Monday, adding that it will suspend VIP activities in the Middle East pending an internal investigation.

The company's shares tumbled as much as 14.4% on the news, before recovering a little to stand about 11% lower by 0815 GMT.

Pazner, 50, has led the company for around four years, including overseeing the acquisition of William Hill's international assets from U.S.-based owner Caesars Entertainment (CZR.O) in 2021.

The company's shares have fallen almost 40% during Pazner's tenure.

Non-Executive Chair Jonathan Mendelsohn will take over as executive chair on an interim basis while the board searches for a new CEO. 888 did not give a reason for Pazner's departure.

The bookmaker also said that some anti-money laundering and Know Your Client processes were not followed for its VIP customers in the Middle East region.

The company estimates that the suspension of such activities will hit the group's overall revenue by at least 3%.

Earlier this month, the group reported a 3% drop in 2022 full year revenue as tightened online player safety measures in the UK and the closure of its Dutch operations reduced revenue in its online business by 15%.

The company's chief financial officer Yariv Dafna, who was expected to leave after the publication of annual results in late March, will now stay until the end of the year, 888 said.

Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Kirsten Donovan

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