Shareholders at Playtech feel dissatisfied with the way the company deals with the situation related to Alan Jackson’s departure, a report in The Times suggests.
Shareholder Revolt Looming
According to the report in The Times, several investors at the FTSE250 technology group feel unhappy and frustrated by the company’s failure to appoint a high-profile chairman, a governance failure in a period of time when the business faces making strategically important decisions and needs an experienced leader to represent it to the investment community.
Shareholders among which Jason Ader’s New York investment fund SpringOwl which holds a 5% stake in in the business openly express their discontent at the decision of the company to extend Claire Milne’s role as interim chair of Playtech.
“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.”Jason Ader, Co-Founder and CEO, SpringOwl Asset Management
In April, Playtech announced the appointment of Claire Milne as interim chair of the company and the board of directors suspended the executive search for a new chairman, citing travel restrictions due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Seeking to Keep the Role Permanently
Playtech’s board stands by its decision, outlining the experience Milne has gained at the company in a non-executive director role since 2016, advising the business on global compliance and legal issues, but shareholders state that it is Milne who is seeking to secure the role on a permanent basis.
According to one top shareholder, Milne “planted the seed” in November and despite the lack of support from some of the top investors at Playtech, she continues to canvass the board for the job.
The rift between the board and shareholders at Playtech widened in May 2019 when shareholders turned sour on the board over its decision to hand hefty pay rise and pension contribution rise to CEO Mor Weiser. Weiser received 18% basic salary increase and 46% rise in pension contributions despite the 2 profit warning Playtech issued in the recent years.
The controversial pay scheme came a year after Playtech treated its chairman Alan Jackson to a secret £66,000 annual pay rise. Jackson’s 7-year tenure at the company was blighted by a number of disputes as shareholders were frustrated by the firm’s continued underperformance and the way it treated executive pay.