Richard Flint, who turned Yorkshire-based Sky Betting & Gaming into one of the biggest operators in the gambling industry, is set to take on a senior role at the world’s largest online betting firm.
Sky Bet's owner The Stars Group today revealed that it had agreed a merger with Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment, which will require approval from shareholders of both firms. Flutter - previously called Paddy Power Betfair - will own 54.6 per cent of the merged firm, which will have its headquarters in Dublin and be listed on the London Stock Exchange as well as on Euronext Dublin. The tie-up - which is set to be completed through a takeover of The Stars Group (TSG) by Flutter - will allow the two firms to make savings of £140 million a year, while there will also be potential revenue cross-sell in international markets and lower finance costs. The Stars Group took over SBG, which has its head office in Leeds, last year for £3.4bn. Last year, Mr Flint, the former CEO, was appointed as executive chairman of SBG. He left the company at the end of June but is now set to return as non-executive director of the combined Stars Group and Flutter operation.
Sky Bet has more than 1,300 staff based in the city and is continuing to grow its headcount.
Upon completion, it is intended that the combined group will have a 14-person board drawing on expertise and experience of Flutter and TSG. If the deal goes ahead, there will be nine non-executive directors comprising five nominated by Flutter, three nominated by TSG and the appointment of Mr Flint, the former CEO of SBG.
Mr Flint said: "I am excited about the prospect of joining the board of the combined group as a non-executive director following completion of the transaction and believe that the combination of TSG and Flutter will create a compelling proposition in global sports betting and gaming."
Mr Flint has more than 20 years’ experience in online businesses, starting as a Channel Director at FT.com and then as the Product Director of online start-up flutter.com, which merged with Betfair in 2001.
Prior to that, he worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company from 1997 to 1999.
It has also been confirmed by Flutter that Morrisons' chairman Andrew Higginson has been appointed as an independent non-executive director of the group.
Mr Higginson has been the chair of Bradford-based Wm Morrison Supermarkets, since January 2015. He is also the chair of Evergreen Garden Care and a non-executive director of Woolworths Holdings Limited, the South African retailer.
.Commenting on his appointment, Gary McGann, chairman of the group, said "We are delighted to welcome Andrew as a non-executive director. He brings an extensive wealth of board, commercial, retail and leadership experience to the board."
Flutter chairman Gary McGann will become chairman of the combined group, while Flutter chief executive Peter Jackson will head up the firm in the same role.
Rafi Ashkenazi, chief executive of TSG, will become chief operating officer of the combined group.
If the deal is approved by shareholders of the two firms, it is expected to complete in the second or third quarter of next year.
Following the transaction, Flutter said it will have customers in more than 100 international markets.
Mr Jackson said the deal will "turbocharge" Flutter's growth strategy.
Mr McGann added: "This is an exciting and transformational combination that will bring together two strong, complementary businesses to create a global leader in the fast-growing online sports betting and gaming industry."
Mr Ashkenazi said the deal will "position us strongly for the future in this rapidly evolving industry".
It comes amid a period of unprecedented change in the global betting industry, which has seen a raft of deals in recent years amid the rise in online gaming and regulation crackdowns.
James Wheatcroft, an analyst at Jefferies, said it was a "compelling" deal.