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Morrisons Boss to Take Flutter Chair Amid Gambling Giant’s Stellar Merger
Gambling operator Flutter Entertainment is reportedly considering replacing its current chairman with Andrew Higginson, who currently chairs the board of supermarket group Morrisons.
Flutter is in the middle of a £11 billion takeover of rival gambling powerhouse The Stars Group. The transaction will create the world’s largest online gambling business once it closes in the second half of 2020.
Last month, Mr. Higginson joined Flutter as a non-executive director. He is understood to be in line to replace the gambling operator’s current chairman – Irish businessman Gary McGann – when he retires. According to a report by The Sunday Times, Mr Higginson could be named chairman of the gambling operator as early as its next annual general meeting in May 2020.
If he succeeds Mr. McGann next year, Mr. Higginson would be the first non-Irish chairman of Flutter, which up until recently operated as Paddy Power Betfair.
Aged 62, Mr. Higginson has been part of the management of some of UK’s biggest companies, including Unilever and Guinness Brewing. He then served as finance director of Laura Ashley and the Burton Group, and later on joined Tesco, where he spent 15 years. Mr. Higginson stepped in as chairman of Morrisons four years ago.
As for Flutter’s current chairman, Mr. McGann is one of Ireland’s best-known business leaders. Aside from his role at the gambling operator, he also leads the board of Swiss-Irish food group Aryzta.
He previously held senior roles at drinks firm Gilbeys, Anglo Irish Bank, and paper-based packaging company Smurfit Kappa.
Leading the World’s Largest Online Gambling Group
If reports about Mr. Higginson’s appointment as chairman of Flutter prove true, he would join the company as it prepares to merge its business with that of Canada’s The Stars Group to create what would be the world’s largest online gambling operator with combined revenue of more than £3.8 billion.
As mentioned earlier, the deal is expected to be completed sometime in the second half of 2020. The combined group will bring together major brands such as Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Betting & Gaming, and PokerStars, among others.
The expanded operator will be headquartered in Dublin and will be steered by Flutter’s current CEO, Peter Jackson. Mr. Jackson stepped in as the group’s boss in January 2018.
Flutter’s management, which could soon include Mr. Higginson, will have the important task to ensure the smooth integration and combination of the two businesses that will have a combined 13 million customers around the world.
In addition, the combined entity will have to cope with regulatory headwinds that include a looming crackdown on online gambling in the United Kingdom, one of its main markets. News emerged earlier this week that MPs are calling for a £2-per-spin stakes cap for online slots, a move that would slash operators’ revenues significantly, if approved and enforced.
Across the pond, the Flutter/Stars Group tie-up would provide the enlarged group with expanded opportunities to cement itself in the nascent but already highly lucrative US sports betting market.
Source: Paddy Power’s flutter on Morrisons boss Andrew Higginson, The Sunday Times
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