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William Hill boosts chief digital officer to CEO in bid to be 'digitally-led'

5th September, 08:06

Ulrik Bengtsson, who previously ran a Swedish online gaming firm, will replace Philip Bowcock

William Hill has announced the departure of its chief executive Philip Bowcock, who has been replaced by the company's chief digital officer, Ulrik Bengtsson.

Bengtsson, who will take over on 30 September, joined William Hill in April 2018 and previously ran Betsson, a Swedish online gaming company. Bowcock will remain at the group until the end of the year to help with the transition.

The UK betting company said the change formed part of its "strategy of becoming a digitally led and internationally diverse gambling company".

William Hill's high street business took a deeper hit than rivals from curbs on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which cost it nearly £1bn.

It slumped to a loss of £64m in the first half of the year and profits at the online division, which makes up nearly half of revenues, also fell. Like other betting companies, the firm has pushed aggressively into the US, where the supreme court reversed a decades-old ban on sports betting last year.

Bowcock joined William Hill as chief financial officer in November 2015 and became interim chief executive in July 2016 and then CEO in March 2017. The betting company said it would release full details of his payoff under the terms of his contract in due course. He received a total package of just over £1m last year.

Bengtsson will receive an annual salary of £600,000, the same as his predecessor, along with benefits, an annual bonus and long-term share bonuses. He will get a pension allowance of 5% of salary, reduced from Bowcock's 20% pension allowance.

Roger Devlin, the chairman, said: "Having overseen the group's digital operations for 18 months, [Bengtsson] knows the business well and is ideally suited to lead our next phase of growth. Ulrik has deep understanding in digital and has the international and sector experience we need to deliver on our strategy. His appointment will provide continuity, stability and operational digital leadership as we deliver on the strategy we have set."