Entain names Jette Nygaard-Andersen CEO after rejecting MGM deal

Ladbrokes owner Entain named non-executive director and industry veteran Jette Nygaard-Andersen as its chief executive officer on Thursday, making her the first woman to lead a UK gambling company.

Outgoing CEO Shay Segev announced his intention to quit, to take up a job at global sports streaming platform DAZN, days after rejecting an $11 billion takeover approach from MGM Resorts’ just after seven months in the role.

Nygaard-Andersen takes on the role at a time when Entain is evolving into an entertainment company and she will be tasked with steering the firm towards regulated markets, expanding in the lucrative United States sports betting market and boosting its online offerings.

“We also think this reflects a desire to maintain continuity around the Board’s recently renewed strategic plan, both in terms of being an internal appointment and Ms Nygaard-Andersen’s background in digital entertainment,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.

Nygaard-Andersen, who joined Entain in 2019 after a long stint at Swedish e-sports and gaming group MTG, will take up the post immediately and Segev will be available to the company until July 8 to ensure a smooth handover.

Chief Financial Officer Rob Wood will assume additional responsibility as the deputy CEO, taking charge of all retail operations and deal making activities, the betting firm said.

Entain said it expects annual U.S. net revenue to be between $175 million and $180 million, ahead of its third-quarter guidance, and maintained its group core earnings forecast range of 825 million pounds to 845 million pounds.

Online net gaming revenue surged 41% for the quarter ended Dec. 31, the company said, as customers have taken to playing from home while casinos and betting shops are shut during COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.

The owner of bwin, Coral and Eurobet brands offered to buy Swedish rival Enlabs AB earlier this month to capitalise on the growing sports betting market, after snubbing the approach from its U.S. joint venture partner MGM.[L4N2JI1LX]

Some analysts have speculated Entain could yet find another bidder, but its shares have returned to pre-bid levels and the existing joint venture might prove a barrier to another bidder.

“MGM may have decided to abandon its rebuffed £8.1 billion pursuit of Entain, but there are no hard feelings,” Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter said.

The shares were little changed at 0903 GMT at 12.69 pounds.

($1 = 0.7301 pounds)