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David Baazov steps down from Amaya duties but could still buy the company

Davi

Amaya
d Baazov is to take a voluntary indefinite paid leave of absence from Amaya while he prepares an offer to acquire the company and to avoid distraction while he faces charges related to insider trading.

Baazov has vacated his positions as chairman and CEO, with the CEO role being filled on an interim basis by Rafi Ashkenazi, CEO of the Rational Group, which operates the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands and is owned by Amaya.

Dave Ghadia, who has been an Amaya director since 2010, will take over as interim chairman.

Quebec financial security regulator the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) announced last week it had charged Baazov, among others, for using privileged information related to Amaya for trading purposes between December 2013 and June 2014.

June 2014 was the month where the announcement of Amaya’s agreement to buy Oldford Group and with it PokerStars and Full Tilt for $4.9bn was made.

Baazov said on stepping down as CEO and chairman: “As always, I continue to be dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and all its stakeholders. I believe that stepping down in the short term will help to avoid distraction for the company and its management while I vigorously contest all allegations made against me and pursue my bid to acquire the company.”

The five charges brought against Baazov in particular are for “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya inc., and communicating privileged information”.

The AMF also announced that Baazov’s brother Josh is among 13 individuals to have received freeze and cease trade orders, a group alleged to have made a profit close to $1.5m between 2011 and 2016, which includes Craig Levett, who has been linked to the creation of Amaya.

Levett’s existing company was purchased by Amaya “so that the corporation would have an operating history”, Amaya was quoted by the Globe and Mail as saying in June last year.

The latest development does not mean that Baazov’s association with Amaya is at an end, as he owns an approximate 18.6% share in the company and it was announced in February that Baazov intends to make an all-cash proposal to acquire Amaya at a purchase price of an estimated CAD$21 per common share.
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