Ladbrokes owner Entain chooses new boss after US bidder drops out

The gambling company behind Ladbrokes has appointed a new chief executive, just weeks after its former boss resigned and days after a suitor pulled out of a more than £8 billion bid for the firm.

The board of Entain said it had chosen Jette Nygaard-Andersen to lead the business.

The Dane already sits on the Entain board, and had earlier been reported as a frontrunner for the top job.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such an outstanding candidate and readymade CEO in Jette,” said chairman Barry Gibson.

“She is already deeply immersed in Entain’s strategy, and clearly shares our ambition to be the world-leader in sports betting and gaming entertainment.”

The hunt for a new boss has taken place at breakneck speed.

Ms Nygaard-Andersen’s predecessor, Shay Segev, quit the business just 10 days ago, on January 11.

He announced his departure amid what then looked like a takeover fight between the board of Entain and US casino giant MGM Resorts.

Entain revealed at the beginning of January that MGM was weighing an £8.1 billion offer for the FTSE 100 listed gambler.

The board rejected the MGM bid as undervaluing the company, sparking some speculation that the US casino giant may increase its offer.

However, earlier this week MGM pulled out, seemingly unwilling to offer any more to Entain’s shareholders. Entain’s share price, which had soared when the bid was revealed, plummeted on Tuesday.

Entain said on Thursday that finance boss Rob Wood will become Ms Nygaard-Andersen’s deputy chief executive, on top of his current role.

The business also revealed that online net gaming revenue had soared by 41% in the final quarter of 2020, compared with a year earlier.

Full-year online net gaming revenue grew by 27%, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) is expected to fall in the previously announced £825 million to £845 million range, despite its retail stores being forced to close.

Outgoing chief executive Mr Segev said: “In an exceptionally challenging year, our strong performance has been driven by a business model that is highly diversified across a wide range of products, brands, territories and channels.

“While the short-term outlook remains uncertain as a result of the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, we have entered 2021 with good momentum and remain as confident as ever in Entain’s longer term prospects.”