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Ladbrokes Seeks New Chief After Bell Resigns


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Christopher Bell has spent 20 years working for leading land and online
gambling firm Ladbrokes, his most recent position being the CEO of the
multi-million pound business, which is why his sudden resignation came largely
as a surprise to the gambling industry.

According to reports, 52-year-old Bell informed the Ladbrokes board that he
would step down as CEO later this summer. Bell was appointed CEO of the
LSE-listed Ladbrokes in February 2006, following the splitting of Ladbrokes from
large hotel group, Hilton International.

Bell’s resignation comes just eight months after Peter Erskine, former chairman
and CEO of large telecommunications company O2, was appointed chairman of
Ladbrokes. It is unknown whether the executives saw eye to eye, but there are
rumours Bell did not like working with Erskine.

However, Bell’s departure seems to be amicable and he has agreed to stay on
until a successor has been found. One of the reasons for Bell’s departure may be
due to criticism he received after Ladbrokes shares failed to perform as well as
those of rival, William Hill, over the past 12 months.

During this period Ladbrokes has faced increasingly stiff competition from the
world’s leading online gambling firms. For instance, while Ladbrokes shares
dropped 5.4 percent in the last 12 months, William Hill’s rose 18 percent,
PartyGaming’s rose 37 percent and 888’s rose 8.5 percent.

As for potential successors, two names have been bandied around so far. The
first is John O’Reilly, currently the managing director of Ladbrokes’ online
gambling division, and the second is Brian Wallace, currently Ladbrokes’ finance
director. However, the job will be anything but easy.

Whoever takes over the reigns of Ladbrokes will have to contend with an
increasingly competitive market place as well as a likely increase in online
gambling levies and taxes from the UK government. This is despite the fact
Ladbrokes recently moved its HQ to Gibraltar to escape high taxes.

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