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Interference from Betclic Everest shareholders leads to chief executive Ignacio Martos leaving after 12 months

Interference and meddling from the main shareholders of Betclic Everest Group in the activities of Ignacio Martos, the company’s chief executive who is leaving his job after barely a year in the post, have emerged as the real reasons behind his deci

Wednesday 30th January 2013

Interference and meddling from the main shareholders of Betclic Everest Group in the activities of Ignacio Martos, the company’s chief executive who is leaving his job after barely a year in the post, have emerged as the real reasons behind his decision to step down. Martos’s departure was announced Tuesday this week and sources close to the company have revealed that relations between the executive and the group’s main shareholders Stphane Courbit and Socit des Bains de Mer (SBM) had become so “complex” and strained that the ex-chief executive of Opodo decided to call it a day after barely a year in the job. BEG staff were told of his departure in December and the group had planned to announce it next week to coincide with the opening of the International Casino Exhibition in London. Isabelle Andres, the current finance director, will succeed him. After the departure of Martos’s predecessors Isabelle Parize and Nicolas Braud, Isabelle Andres will be the fourth person to take up the position of chief executive with BEG since 2009. According to one source close to the group, this constant change at the top 'creates a lot of instability and a lack of continuity for the group, and the main reason for this state of affairs is the complex relationship with the shareholders'. According to another source, Ignacio Martos 'was supposed to stay (at least) two years in office, but offered his resignation three or four times during the last 12 months because he was in conflict with Stphane Courbit and the Socit des Bains de Mer over BEG’s strategic direction and the fact that the roles were not clearly separated'. In practical terms, the source said this means 'Stphane Courbit is the de facto CEO of the group and has remained an entrepreneur who too often meddles in the chief executive’s business and actions, which reduces his or her position and destabilises them and the group. Ignacio Martos simply got tired of the whole thing,' the source added that 'the same issues lay behind the departures of Isabelle Parize and Nicolas Braud'. Ignacio Martos joined BEG in October 2011, but was absent for two months and therefore remained with BEG for just about 12 months. It is still too early to pass judgement on the restructuring of Betclic Everest because, according to one source, 'the first, 'easy' phase of the restructuring was accomplished through layoffs and cost cutting: including many higher management positions to reduce the wage bill, but mainly due to the cancellation of the sponsorship agreements the group had with the football clubs of Marseille, Lyon and Juventus in Italy, which saved it close to €20M. However, the second phase of the project is much more difficult, the rebuilding of the business’s activities and processes with new teams that have experience and can show leadership has not even started'. According to the same source, 'it is important to optimise these teams, but there is also a need for people who know what they are doing and that the group has a roadmap to follow'. The appointment of Isabelle Andres as chief executive was questioned by another contact, who said they had doubts as to whether she could “transfer her skills into leading a group such as BEG.' If the performance of the group in France is generally considered positive, especially when taking account of the competition and spending power of Franaise des jeux and PMU, the verdict on the its activities and structure in the rest of Europe is much more mixed. As a reminder, BEG bought 60% of Everest Poker for US$100M in 2009 and recently took it over completely so that it could close it down and transfer to Playtech’s iPoker network. Meanwhile Bet-at-home, which targets German-speaking markets and eastern Europe, operates independently of the group in Paris with all the costs this entails and online sportsbook Expekt, bought for about US$100m, 'has more or less been dissolved' and restructured as a high-end bookmaker. Stphane Courbit is a high profile businessman in France and from everything that has been written and said about him, it is difficult to imagine him happy at staying in the background as a shareholder. 'The situation is not catastrophic, (BEG) is a solid group' said one of the contacts, but 'the task will be hard and BEG needs to grow its business outside of France, because it’s not the French market that is going to generate the profits for the group'. Betclic Everest Group did not wish to reply when asked for comment.

Source: OnlineCasinoNews

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