Playtech Shareholders Revolt as New Chairman Sworn In

Playtech shareholders and investors revolt for the fifth straight year

Investors in gambling giant Playtech are not happy at all. They are protesting for the fifth consecutive year. A number of issues irked the investors, including a lack of female directors and boardroom pay.

Playtech secured less than 80 per cent of votes cast for 11 of the 15 resolutions at the company’s annual general meeting on May 26. Some 24.5 per cent of shareholders voted against Playtech’s pay report. In addition, 35.3 per cent voted against re-electing Claire Milne, who is the company’s interim chairman.

The bad blood follows criticism from advisory service Glass Lewis. The report highlighted Playtech “failed to adequately outline any measurable diversity objectives.” This despite the British Government-target for 33 per cent of its board to be women. Seven people sit on the Playtech board, but only two are woman, including Milne.

Salary of Playtech CEO Scrutinised Again

The remuneration of Playtech board members has long been a bone of contention for shareholders and investors. CEO Mor Weizer’s salary and bonuses, in particular, are commonly discussed in public.

Weizer has held the role of CEO since 2007 much to the dismay of investors. His basic salary has not changed much over the years, but he receives bonuses galore.

For example, Weizer banked €2,055,437 in total during 2018. This increased to €2,930,588 in 2019. Weizer has earned more than €20.6 million over the past ten years despite Playtech’s share prize more than halving.

Shares in Playtech traded at 543.00 pence per share when Weizer became CEO. They peaked at 995.00 pence per share two years later, but bottomed out at 230.10 pence per share at one stage. Those shares cost 467.80 pence per share at the time of writing.

Weizer’s 2020 pay packet is down on 2019 but it is still a huge cost to the company. He collected €1,905,000 in 2020 compared to €2,931,000 in 2019. Amazingly, Playtech paid Weizer a €534,285 bonus despite him leading the company to a €73 million loss.

Brian Mattingley Appointed as Chairman

June 1, 2021 sees Brian Mattingley step into the role of Chairman, taking over from the outgoing Claire Milne. Mattingley has extensive experience in the gambling world, including senior roles at Gala Group and Ritz Bingo.

Mattingley left his role as 888 Holdings Chairman to take over at the helm of Playtech.

“I’m very pleased to be joining Playtech at such an exciting time in the company’s development. Playtech is ideally placed to continue to build on its market leadership position and I look forward to working with everyone at Playtech to drive forward its strategy and capitalise on the opportunities ahead.”

Milne, the outgoing Interim Chairman, commented.

“I’m honoured to have acted as Playtech’s Interim Chairman over the past year and I look forward to working with Brian Mattingly, who takes up his position as our new Chairman next well, as well as with the rest of the Board to continue to drive Playtech’s strategy and capitalise on the significant opportunities ahead.”

Activist Investor Delighted With Mattingley Appointment

Mattingley’s appointment please at least one major shareholder. Jason Ader is an activist investor who holds a five per cent stake in the company. He made it abundantly clear he was not in favour of Milne running the show.

“We do not support Claire Milne as the future chairwoman of Playtech, we believe there are better candidates to lead this company into US gaming markets and lead it in its various endeavours over the course of the next decade.”

Ader spoke more highly of the incoming Mattingley.

“Brian’s appointment is fantastic news. It’s very positive for leadership, governance and reputation. With decades of experience under his belt, he is well-positioned to assume the responsibilities of chairman. I couldn’t think of anyone better for the job and I’m excited to see the changes he is going to make so that Playtech can finally perform to its full potential.”