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Bookmaker William Hill has promoted Philip Bowcock to chief executive, ending a difficult nine-month search in which the UK bookmaker has been rebuffed by several external candidates.

Mr Bowcock, the company’s finance chief, has been acting as interim chief executive since James Henderson was removed in July in response to the board’s dissatisfaction with stalling online growth.

As previously reported in the Financial Times, Mr Bowcock became the frontrunner following a fractious CEO search marked by disagreements at the top of the business over the succession.

Several people briefed on the succession discussions said the company’s largest shareholder, the hedge fund Parvus Asset Management, as well as some board members, had expressed doubts about Mr Bowcock’s suitability for the role. These people cited Mr Bowcock’s inexperience in the gambling industry — he joined William Hill in November 2015 having been chief financial officer at Cineworld.

Mr Bowcock will receive a base salary of £600,000 per year, an increase of £50,000, as well as continuing to participate in the company’s benefits and bonus plans.

The move also paves the way for the departure of Gareth Davis, William Hill’s chairman. Last month, the company indicated his desire to step down from his £300,000-a-year role as early next year, once a permanent chief executive was in place

Mr Davis said:

Since his appointment as interim CEO last July, Philip has driven the business forward at real pace and we have seen important progress across our online, retail and international businesses over that time. Our recent results show that William Hill is now in a stronger position and Philip has outlined a clear plan to continue that momentum into the future.

Mr Bowcock said: “I am proud to be chosen to lead William Hill, a business that millions of customers trust and a brand that is synonymous with betting.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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