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Shares in 888 have gained 5% in the early hours of trading after the operator appointed Per Widerström as CEO, with effect from 16 October.

Widerström has more than 17 years of experience in the online gaming industry.

He will join 888 from private equity investor Nordic Capital, where he served as operating chair and industrial adviser.

His most recent operational role was as CEO of Fortuna Entertainment Group, a market-leading omni-channel betting and gaming business operating across Central and Eastern Europe from 2014 to 2022.

Prior to that, he held several high-level positions at prominent online gaming companies since 2006.

Between 2011 and 2014, Widerström served as managing director and chairman at Gala Interactive within the Gala Coral Group.

Furthermore, Widerström spent nearly two years at Bwin, where he initially held the position chief operating officer and later transitioned into the role of chief integration officer. Before that, he was CEO of Expekt.com and Mangas Gaming Malta.

He currently also holds a non-executive board position at Catena Media and chairs Casumo’s board of directors, in addition to various other board roles in the financial and technology sectors.

888 executive chair Lord Mendelsohn commented: “We are delighted to be able to appoint Per following what has been an extensive and comprehensive search process.

“The board unanimously agreed that Per was the clear standout candidate to lead the group to build on the strong platform for growth and value creation that has been established.”

Mendelsohn highlighted Widerström’s extensive experience in both public and private companies and his proven ability to execute value creation plans.

He emphasised that Widerström’s energy and leadership qualities, combined with nearly two decades of relevant industry expertise, make him a valuable asset to lead 888.

Mendelsohn continued: “He has a strong and proven track record of driving growth and delivering transformation programmes at multiple leading online gaming businesses, and the board is very pleased to appoint someone with the skillset to deliver our objective to become a much stronger international multi-brand operator, leveraging our technology and data capabilities to drive an acceleration in growth.

“Per not only understands the power and exciting potential of the business, but the board is also very pleased with his strong record and reputation on governance and compliance,” he concluded.

“A global industry leader”

In response to his appointment, Widerström expressed his excitement and honour.

He recognised 888’s portfolio of betting and gaming brands, state-of-the-art technology platform, and exceptional team, which position the group “to become a clear global industry leader”.

“It is incredibly exciting to be joining at such a key moment in the group’s long-term development,” he said. “888 has a clear and attractive opportunity ahead of it, and I am very much looking forward to getting started and working with the rest of the team to build on the strong progress already made and achieve the group’s full and very exciting potential,” he said.

Once Widerström arrives in the autumn, Lord Mendelsohn will return to the role of non-executive chair.

Earlier this month, 888 terminated discussions with FS Gaming Investments over the proposal to appoint former GVC boss Kenny Alexander as the company’s new CEO.

888 has been searching for a CEO replacement ever since Itai Pazner left the business in January over an internal compliance investigation that found the company failed to adhere to KYC and AML protocols for VIP customers in the Middle East.