May 16, 2014 4:08 pm

Bwin.party announces boardroom shake-up

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Bwin online gaming portal©Bloomberg

Incoming Bwin.party chairman Philip Yea responded to shareholder concerns over the state of the online gambling company by announcing a planned boardroom shake-up.

Calls by Jason Ader, an activist shareholder, for management changes and new board nominees have been rebuffed by the company, which faces a crunch annual meeting next week.

But Mr Yea, who becomes chairman at the AGM, said he was refreshing the board with three new but as yet unnamed independent directors.

Out go deputy chairman Rod Perry, audit committee chairman Helmut Kern, and Manfred Bodner, co-founder of the Austrian-based sports betting division Bwin.

Mr Yea, the former 3i chief executive, said in a statement the shake-up would help the company face issues such as technological change and increasing regulation, and help maximise shareholder value.

Bwin.party, the product of the 2010 merger of Bwin and online poker operator PartyGaming, was operating in “a challenging and rapidly changing business environment”, said Mr Yea.

Shares in the company fell another 5 per cent and are languishing at around 112p. At the start of the week, shares were at 127p. The market capitalisation is now £970m.

The statement made no mention of Mr Ader’s demand to have four nominations to be elected to the board, except to repeat the company’s recommendation that Bwin.party shareholders reject his demands.

Mr Ader’s SpringOwl investment vehicle has a 5.25 per cent stake and argues that the company has been destroying shareholder value and should be earning double its rate of profit.

Bwin.party said it had spoken to a number of major shareholders and discussed their concerns.

roger.blitz@ft.com

Twitter: @rogerblitz

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