Pontus Lindwall reveals truth about surprise sacking as Betsson CEO
Pontus Lindwall has lifted the lid on his shocking departure from Betsson last year, when he was fired and then reinstalled as CEO – all within the space of a month.
Last September, Lindwall was sacked by then-chairman Patrick Svensk, who said he was looking for the “next generation of international leader” to take over the company.
However, Svensk acted alone and never sought out permission from the board’s leading shareholders, who are an influential group of wealthy families that have been on a journey with Betsson from the very beginning.
The sacking came days after Betsson’s best-ever financial report, and news of Lindwall’s departure led to a rebellion from within the company – as well as externally across the wider industry.
The operator’s biggest shareholders – including Lindwall’s mother Berit – piled the pressure on Svensk, who was soon ousted as chairman while Pontus won back his position as CEO.
Meanwhile at Betsson. Live stream of Pontus Lindwall. pic.twitter.com/1AGnOq9wNX
— Mikael Pawlo (@mpawlo) October 25, 2021
Speaking to ex-Mr Green CEO, old friend and former adversary Jesper Kärrbrink during a fireside chat at iGaming NEXT Valletta 2022, Lindwall peeled back the curtain on the whole crazy episode.
“I came back as CEO in 2017, when the company was not doing so well,” said Lindwall. “We put a good team in place, and I started to get the company back on track. We were performing well and in 2021 we had just published our best report ever.
“Everything was going really well and then the chairman stepped into my room because we had an upcoming strategy meeting. I told him what I was about to present, and he said hold on, I have something else to tell you – you’re fired. I was like what? And then he said it again, you’re fired.
“I said why is that? I have all these projects going, I have the best team in the world and we’re on a good ride here. He said yes but it feels better to change the CEO when the company is doing well and that we needed some fresh blood.
“I asked him, did you talk to the shareholders? Because the major shareholders have been with the company since its inception. It’s a family-run business. He said no because the board is independent. We don’t need to talk to the shareholders.”
Pontus Lindwall: “I told him what I was about to present, and he said hold on, I have something else to tell you – you’re fired. I was like what? And then he said it again, you’re fired.”
So Lindwall took it upon himself to talk to the shareholders instead, including his mother, who was influential in keeping him in power, which he said was of great significance.
Lindwall told a capacity audience at the stunning Mediterranean Conference Centre that he never took the chairman’s decision personally – but that he never agreed with it, either.
“I don’t have a problem to leave my job if I thought that I was not good in that position,” said Lindwall, an industry veteran of more than 25 years. “We had a different opinion on the situation. I stood up for my opinion and then I had a lot of support from the industry and from inside and outside of the company.
“There was a little bit of a struggle and I think he felt the outcome of his decision was not what he expected. I can’t say if it was the right move. We will never know which one of us was right, but you have to stand up for what you believe in and that’s what I did,” he added.