888 shares skyrocket as ex-Entain and Betfair execs reveal stake

Shares in 888 rocket as ex-Entain and Betfair execs reveal stake in William Hill owner and analysts ponder potential for a takeover bid

  • 888 has endured a year of regulatory scrutiny and the exit of its CEO
  • Its share price has more than halved over the last 12 months 

Shares in London-listed 888 Holdings soared by as much as 20 per cent after it was revealed a cabal of industry executivess had taken a stake in the gambling group.

It was revealed late on Tuesday that New York-based FS Gaming Investments had built a 6.6 per cent stake in the company, which has faced a tumultuous year that has seen the departure of its chief executive after regulatory fines and scrutiny.

The William-Hill owner’s regulatory filing showed FS Gaming’s Shay Segev, Kenneth Alexander, Daniel Shribman, Lee Feldman and B. Riley Principal Investments all have interests in the deal.

888 shares race ahead after industry execs take a stake in gambling group 

Alexander and Segev are both former chief executives of Ladbrokes and Coral owner Entain, then called GVC, where Feldman was a board member.

Morana is the former finance chief and interim chief executive of Betfair, and was also once chief financial officer at Cazoo. 

He helped lead both businesses through rapid growth culminating in a stock exchange initial public offering.

888 Holdings shares were up 18.7 per cent to 95p in midmorning trading on Wednesday. 

It has plummeted more than 50 per cent over the last year amid a series of regulatory interventions.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said the group of industry bigwigs has the potential to ‘accelerate, catalyse and even direct strategic change’ in the troubled business.

In 2022, 888 plummeted to a £115.7million pre-tax loss because of debt costs related to the William Hill takeover and total turnover sliding back as loosening Covid-19 restrictions meant people gambled less online.

The group has also been impacted by scandals over failures to institute proper money laundering controls and conduct the necessary checks on new customers, including whether they were at risk of gambling-related harms.

Chief executive Itai Pazner then left 888 after more than two decades with the group, including four years at the top.

Reiterating its target share price of 150p, Peel Hunt said: ‘This well-informed group of investors could contribute to finding a new chief executive, accelerating the existing strategy and finding new directions for growth.

‘A bid is possible and, if it triggered a refinancing, has potential to create value by reducing the burden of the debt service cost.’

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