Baazov steps down to focus on charges and takeover bid

Baazov steps down to focus on charges and takeover bid

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Totally Gaming
Baazov is accused of insider trading by Quebec's authorities

Amaya chief executive and chairman David Baazov has stepped down on a temporary basis following the insider trading charges brought against him.

Baazov will take an indefinite paid leave of absence from the Canadian owner of PokerStars, with Rafi Ashkenazi, chief executive of Amaya unit Rational Group, named as interim chief executive. Divyesh Gadhia, who chairs a special committee set up following Baazov’s announcement earlier this year that he was leading a consortium looking to buy the company, has been named interim chairman.

Baazov, who will remain a member of the board, said he had elected to step down to focus on the offer to buy Amaya and to avoid a distraction for the company while he responds to the allegations against him by the securities regulator.

Baazov said: “As always, I continue to be dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and all its stakeholders. I believe that stepping down in the short term will help to avoid distraction for the company and its management while I vigorously contest all allegations made against me and pursue my bid to acquire the company.”

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) regulator launched an investigation into Baazov and other executives in 2014 for trading in Amaya's stock ahead of the company's CAN$4.9bn (€3.3bn/$3.7bn) takeover of PokerStars-owner Rational Group. Amaya said last week it believed the charges against Baazov were without merit and it expected Baazov to be "fully exonerated".

TotallyGaming says:

It's a move that makes complete sense, with Baazov stretched between his bid and charges brought against him. The change in management on an interim basis, which has been well received by the markets today, allows the company to focus on its core operations, with Baazov now able to put his energies into two very contrasting developments.

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