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NEWS 31 January 2019

Betsson CEO exclusive: "Integration has been a tough process"

By David Cook

Betsson CEO Pontus Lindwall has stressed the difficulty of coping with integration with other businesses.

The operator’s 2017 was described as “turbulent” by its chief, as its operating income fell 7% to SEK 882.2m and profit before tax dropped 10% to SEK 842.9m.

There appeared to be an uplift in performance for the first three quarters of 2018 however, where revenue grew 15% year-on-year to SEK 3.98bn and operating income ascended 28% to SEK 852.3m.

In an exclusive interview with Gambling Insider, Lindwall said: “I think there were several reasons behind it [the turbulence]. We made several acquisitions and the integration of those companies took a lot of attention.

“Consequently, we spent less time focusing on our own company, so we fell behind a little bit. The plan was to stop doing M & A and focus on our own business to get that back on track. We bought many companies over the years and when you do that, it doesn’t always turn out to be the optimal organisation, so there had to be a bit of a clean-up.”

The acquisitions referred to by Lindwall include: Betsafe in 2011, Nordic Gaming Group in 2012, Automaten brands SverigeAutomaten, NorgesAutomaten and DanmarksAutomaten in 2013, Dutch brands Oranje Casino and Kroon Casino in 2014 and British brand NetPlay in 2017.

Lindwall took over as CEO for the second time in 2017, after leaving the position in 2011, when he took up the role of Chairman.

He said: “I missed being CEO, because being the CEO puts you in the middle of everything and you know everything that’s going on in the company.

“The board asked me if I could step in temporarily to take on the position again, and I did that. I’ve been in the industry for so long, and I like it, so I said I would continue if the board wanted me to, and they did. It then became a permanent solution.”

Lindwall spoke to Gambling Insider for the magazine’s January/February edition. Sign up to read the free magazine here.

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