THU, 23RD FEB 2017

In-Depth Analysis for the gaming industry

NEWS 12 August 2016
David Baazov permanently replaced as Amaya CEO
By David Cook
David Baazov has now officially left the positions of CEO and Chairman of Amaya, and Rafi Ashkenazi has been appointed as CEO on a permanent basis.

This follows the announcement in March that Baazov had taken an indefinite leave from day-to-day operations to avoid distraction while he faces charges related to insider trading and while the possibility of Baazov purchasing the company in its entirety played out.

Amaya confirmed in its second quarter and first half of the year report that he will now not be returning to those roles, though Baazov still owns approximately 18.5% of the company.

While it is highly unlikely, it is not known if Baazov still intends to buy the company outright or if in fact his stake will be sold.

These latest developments had been hinted at when it was confirmed in June that Baazov and CFO Daniel Sebag would not be standing for re-election.

The insider trading-related charges were announced by Quebec financial security regulator the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) in March, where Baazov and five other parties related to Baazov had 23 charges filed against them.

Baazov faces five charges, and those charges 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 said the respondents are alleged to have used “privileged information pertaining to the securities of Amaya inc. for trading purposes” between December 2013 and June 2014.

It was confirmed in June 2014 that Amaya was to purchase Oldford Group, owner of the PokerStars and Full Tilt brands, for $4.9bn.

On his departure, Baazov said: “I am proud of my contributions in building Amaya into the successful company it is today, and continue to be supportive of its strategy and management.”

Amaya said: “Amaya thanks Mr. Baazov for his contributions to Amaya since its inception and through its rapid growth, and looks forward to Mr. Ashkenazi’s continued success in leading the execution of Amaya’s strategy.”

Ashkenazi, who began working as a COO for Rational Group, which operates PokerStars and Full Tilt, in 2013, took over on an interim basis in March and will now hold the position of CEO permanently.

Divyesh Gadhia has now taken over as Chairman of the Board on a permanent basis after previously holding the role as an interim.

Highlights of the financial report were an 8% year-on-year revenue increase to CAD$574.6m (£340.9m) for H1 and net earnings from continuing operations climbing 163% to CAD$78m in the same period.

RELATED TAGS: Online | Poker | Financial
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