Once More Into The 888 Breach, Fortuna Favours Per Widerström

Can new CEO Per Widerström navigate toxic tax and regulatory probes and rescue the fortunes of the troubled 888 Group?

After months of churn following the January sacking of its long-time CEO Itai Pazner, 888 Holdings has found a new leader in the hugely-experienced and respected Per Widerström, formerly of Central and Eastern Europe-focussed Fortuna Entertainment Group.

And the markets liked the news, responding with a welcoming, and tasty, initial five-percent jump in the 888 share price.

Widerström, currently Chair and Industrial Adviser at private equity investor Nordic Capital, will take charge of the 888 behemoth, embracing some of the UK’s most iconic betting brands–among them 888 casino, William Hill and Mr Green–with effect from October 16.

He will need all his charm and considerable two-decades of iGaming industry leadership experience to navigate the storm of alleged financial impropriety coming the Omnichannel’s way in the shape of British HMRC Tax Office investigations and a probe by the UK’s regulatory Gambling Commission over 888’s fitness to hold a betting licence.

“I am delighted and honoured to become the 888 Group’s new CEO,” announced Widerström.

“Following 888’s combination with William Hill, the Group has a world-class portfolio of betting and gaming brands, an outstanding technology platform, and an exceptional team.

“Together these attributes mean it is exceptionally well positioned to become a clear global industry leader. It is incredibly exciting to be joining at such a key moment in the Group’s long-term development.”

Exceptional Experience

Platitudes aside, 56-year-old, Sweden-born Widerström–full name Per Evald Widerström–, a graduate of the London School of Economics, brings exceptional experience and proven top-level performance to his new position.

And he will have to earn every cent of his near-one-million-dollars annual starting salary.

Apart from serving as the Chairman of Fortuna’s executive board, Widerström has held a clutch of top positions at leading iGaming companies, among them: Casumo, Catena Media, Gala Interactive, Bwin, Expekt.com and Mangas Gaming Malta.

“We are delighted to be able to appoint Per following what has been an extensive and comprehensive search process,” affirmed 888 Holding’s Executive Chair Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn, who has been acting CEO until a replacement for Itai Pazner could be agreed on.

“The Board unanimously agreed that Per was the clear standout candidate to lead the Group to build on the strong platform for growth and value creation that has been established.”

At time of this story’s publication, 888 shares were trading at 109.60 GBX, +4.30 on the day, representing a rise of 4.08 percent.

If Widerström can continue the surge once he gets his hands on the wheel, and silences the 888 detractors, the iGaming supergroup should be able to pay down their £1.8 billion of debt in short order.

Watch this space.

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