William Hill appoints ex-WorldPay executive as CFO

William Hill appoints ex-WorldPay executive as CFO

Thursday, March 30, 2017 Posted by Scott Longley
Ruth Prior to join later in the year from FTSE 100 payments business

William Hill has swiftly moved to appoint Ruth Prior, previously chief operating officer (COO) at payments processor WorldPay, as its new chief financial officer (CFO) to fill the post vacated by now chief executive Philip Bowcock.

Prior will join the company later in the year. She has been the COO at WorldPay since December 2016 and was previously deputy CFO at the FTSE 100 firm since 2013. She takes over the role at William Hill from Mark Summerfield, who had been seconded from accountancy firm KPMG to fill the shoes of Bowcock who had taken on the interim post of chief executive.

Bowcock himself was finally appointed as chief executive earlier this month after being the stand-in since previous chief executive James Henderson was given the boot in July last year.

William Hill will hope the new appointments at the top are a visible sign of a steadying of the ship after a year or more of upheaval and instability. Alongside the high-level executive appointments, the company has also this year moved to strengthen its board with the appointments of John O’Reilly and Mark Brooker.

O’Reilly was previously a member of the executive team at Ladbrokes before moving on to become managing director of interactive at Coral. Brooker was the former chief operating officer at Betfair before the company merged with Paddy Power.

The last piece of the jigsaw for William Hill is to find a replacement for current chairman Gareth Davies who said recently that he intends to leave the post at the annual general meeting next year.

Simon French, analyst at Cenkos, said he would not be surprised if there were more high-level changes in the management team at William Hill as Bowcock sets out his stall and builds his senior team.

“We are encouraged to see another CFO appointment from outside the industry, in what can sometimes be an introspective sector, and Ms Prior's experience of payments should prove valuable as the group increases revenue from outside the UK,” he said in a note to clients this morning.

“The near-term issues for William Hill remain returning online to at least market levels of growth whilst adjusting to expected regulatory changes in the UK and Australia which could significantly reduce profitability.”

Totally Gaming says: Prior’s appointment is the latest step as William Hill attempts to put its house in order following the problems it has faced in the past year or more. As French points out, the company has its challenges, notably on the regulatory front with the UK government’s triennial review decision on machine stakes and prizes likely after Easter. Personnel is important but what will determine William Hill’s near-term future is events.

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