Ladbrokes prepares for merger with new independent appointments

Ladbrokes prepares for merger with new independent appointments

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Two new independent non-executive directors brings the Ladbrokes - Coral merger even closer

Ladbrokes has prepared the way for its imminent merger with Coral with a shake up of its non-executive board. Out have gone Sly Bailey and David Martin, with immediate effect, in order to make way for some new faces that will make the transition to the wider group.

Mark Clare has been appointed as Senior Independent Director (SID) and chairman of Ladbrokes’ Social Responsibility Committee. The bookmaker says that Clare brings substantial operational and financial experience to the Board and has a strong background operating in a regulated environment and considerable knowledge of customer facing businesses.

Clare also has extensive non-executive director experience. He is currently senior independent non-executive director of United Utilities Group plc and United Utilities Water Limited and non-executive directors of Premier Marina Holdings Limited. He was previously chief executive of Barratt Developments plc, an executive director of Centrica plc, Trustee of the Building Research Establishment and the UK Green Building Council and non-executive director of BAA plc.

Alongside Clare, Stevie Spring being appointed as independent non-executive director and chairman of the Remuneration Committee. Spring has skills in digital, marketing, and advertising as well as broad experience in non-executive roles, particularly as remuneration chair at the Co-Op. Her advertising expertise will no doubt be useful post-merger given the recent spate of judgements against Coral by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Ladbrokes chairman John Kelly commented: “I am delighted to be appointing Mark Clare and Stevie Spring to the Ladbrokes Board. As part of the merger, we undertook to appoint new non-execs and a SID that had not been part of either the Ladbrokes or Coral Board prior to the announcement of the transaction. The expertise and experience they will bring will be a valuable addition to guiding the newly merged company on its journey to be an international industry leader.”

Bailey’s inclusion on the Ladbrokes board that was keen to highlight how seriously the bookmaker took social responsibility was always a curious fit, given Bailey’s involvement in running newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror during the phone hacking scandal that engulfed Britain’s tabloid press.

However Ladbrokes has always spoken warmly of her. Kelly added: “I would also like to thank Sly and David [Martin] for their significant contribution over the last seven and three years respectively and to Christine [Hodgson] for her excellent work as the interim SID of Ladbrokes since December 2015. The last few years have been both challenging and exciting and David and Sly leave the business in the best shape for the opportunities ahead.”

Totally Gaming Says: A new broom at independent director level is just one more piece in the jigsaw before the merger of Ladbrokes & Coral. The biggest piece, the sale of around 350 betting shops, is still to be finalised though, but with several interested parties lined up to take the surplus retail estate off the books it shouldn’t be long before a deal is finalised.

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