New CEO: 888 seeks omnichannel and compliance expertise with Widerström appointment

Operator's new chief will take home a £676,000 annual salary, with years of retail experience at Fortuna likely considered for the William Hill Brand – as well as a "strong record" in compliance.

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888 Holdings has finally appointed Itai Pazner's replacement as CEO, with Per Widerström taking the reins at the operator. The company's share price has risen 5% at the news, to around £1.10 ($1.41).

Indeed, six months after the organisation's former supremo resigned with immediate effect, 888 has announced that former Fortuna Entertainment Group CEO Widerström will step into the role – at what is a pivotal time for the company.

888 has, as of yet, struggled to penetrate the North American market, with compliance and regulatory pressures also attributed by the brand for stagnant performance in its core European markets.

Its share price has fallen in recent months and there was even a recent attempt to turn that around externally, with FS Gaming Group looking to purchase a 6% share in the company.

Those talks were ended, however, following regulatory scrutiny. Former GVC (now Entain) Chairman Lee Feldman was the frontman for that consortium, although former GVC CEO Kenny Alexander was believed to be a candidate to run 888 before questions surfaced over his role in GVC's Turkish business.

"Per not only understands the power and exciting potential of the business, but the Board is also very pleased with his strong record and reputation on governance and compliance” – Lord Mendehlson

Former 888 CEO Pazner himself stepped down at a time when the firm faced headlines over its VIP dealings in the Middle East.

Now, Widerström steps in to oversee brands such as 888, Mr Green and not least William Hill. The significance of the latter is not to be underestimated given both its heavy retail presence (for which 888 will lean on Widerström's Fortuna experience) and its record recent £19.2m settlement with the Gambling Commission (here 888 has referenced Widerström's "strong" track record in compliance).

Widerström will step down from his current roles on the Boards of Casumo and Catena Media as he takes over at 888. He will take home an annual salary of £676,000, with 888 emphasising his experience at the likes of Fortuna Entertainment, Expekt, Bwin, Gala Interactive and more.

Widerström officially commented: "I am delighted and honoured to become the group’s new CEO. Following 888’s combination with William Hill, the group has a world-class portfolio of betting and gaming brands, an outstanding technology platform and an exceptional team.

"Together these attributes mean it is exceptionally well positioned to become a clear global industry leader. It is incredibly exciting to be joining at such a key moment in the group’s long-term development."

Now, Widerström steps in to oversee brands such as 888, Mr Green and not least William Hill. The significance of the latter is not to be underestimated given both its heavy retail presence (for which 888 will lean on Widerström's Fortuna experience)

Meanwhile, Lord Mendehlson – who will now return to his previous role of Non-Executive Chair, added: "We are delighted to be able to appoint Per following what has been an extensive and comprehensive search process. The Board unanimously agreed that Per was the clear standout candidate to lead the group to build on the strong platform for growth and value creation that has been established.

"Per has extensive experience in both public and private companies, and a long track record with a proven ability to execute value-creation plans. As well as being an energetic and inspiring leader, Per brings nearly two decades of highly relevant industry expertise into the role.

"Per not only understands the power and exciting potential of the business, but the Board is also very pleased with his strong record and reputation on governance and compliance.”

Back when he was at Fortuna in 2020, Widerström spoke to Gambling Insider about his life and career for our CEO Special edition.


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