Amaya Appoints New CEO as Founder David Baazov Departs

Posted on August 15th, 2016 by Daniel Ryder
Amaya David Baazov resigns PokerStars

David Baazov is leaving the company he founded, as Amaya looks to its next chapter under the leadership of new CEO Rafi Ashkenazi. (Image: Agence QMI)

Amaya’s David Baazov is departing the gaming company he founded 12 years ago as the insider trading investigation against him conducted by Quebec’s securities regulator continues.

This week the Montreal-headquartered international online gaming conglomerate announced Baazov, who stepped down from his role as CEO in March on indefinite paid leave, was formally severing all ties with the company.

Interim CEO Rafi Ashkenazi will permanently replace Baazov as chief executive officer. Divyesh Gadhia will assume the position of board chairman.

“I am proud of my contributions in building Amaya into the successful company it is today, and continue to be supportive of its strategy and management,” Baazov said in a statement.

Baazov led the $4.9 billion Amaya acquisition of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in 2014.

The lead up to the sale, however, attracted the eyes of Quebec’s Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). The financial watchdog alleges that Baazov shared private information with outside investors before the acquisition became public.

Freeing itself of Baazov’s potentially damaging legal fight should help Amaya maintain order should the former exec be found guilty of insider trading. But investors apparently remain skeptical, as shares of Amaya on NASDAQ fell 3.64 percent Monday.

Revenues Up, Baazov Out

Along with Baazov’s ousting, Amaya reported stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings.

Net income from continuing operations came in at $22.49 million, or 12 cents per share. That’s $16.11 million more than the same period in 2015.

Overall revenue rose to $285.9 million, a 10.2 percent jump that surpassed analyst expectations.

“We delivered second quarter results that overcame seasonal headwinds and continued currency challenges, evidencing the strength of our combined core business,” Ashkenazi stated. “In addition, the Special Committee continues to focus on the strategic alternatives process with a committed view towards maximizing shareholder value.”

Last month Amaya shred its London-based staff as it phased Full Tilt out of operation.

In addition to releasing its fiscal performance, Amaya announced it added nearly two million customer registrations between April 1 and June 30. Amaya now has 103.5 million customer accounts across its iGaming platforms.

Garden State Blossoms

Revenue is up at Amaya, and the same is true for the New Jersey online poker market.

According to data supplied by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), online poker revenue totaled $2,012,105 in July, a 6.7 percent increase on 2015. Internet gambling as whole posted a record win at $17.36 million.

Resorts, the land-based partner of PokerStars, posted $754,199 in peer-to-peer games, aka poker. That’s the highest total of the three Internet poker operators in the Garden State.

Caesars’ WSOP/888 poker room was second with $649,832 and Borgata’s partypoker third at $608,074.

PokerScout shows PokerStars and WSOP/888 battling for the state’s top spot in terms of traffic. The latter currently maintains a small lead over PokerStars.

WSOP/888 is hosting 130 players on its most recent seven-day average, while PokerStars counts 120.

Worldwide, Amaya’s poker revenues were flat during the second quarter. The company says that proves its focusing on recreational players over regular real-money customers was a sound decision.

Comments are closed.