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Betting firm Betsson mum on multiple resignations

Employees describe work atmosphere as 'toxic'

Group directors and managers are leaving betting firm Betsson, industry sources told the Times of Malta.

The Betsson offices in Ta' Xbiex.The Betsson offices in Ta' Xbiex.

Given the level of the office occupied by those stepping down, in terms of hierarchy, the listed parent company in Sweden did not have to make a formal announcement, the sources noted.

Chairman and CEO Ulrik Bengtsson resigned last summer and Jesper Svensson took over as CEO of Betsson’s operational subsidiaries in December. Pontus Lindwall retained overall control.

Soon after, Betsson announced 130 lay-offs from the group and company sources described the current situation as “toxic”, with some even resorting to employee feedback site GlassDoors to air their complaints.

Apart from the human resources worries, the company’s profit margin dropped from 26.8 per cent in 2014 to 17.9 per cent last year.

To some extent, this was to be expected from a company in the process of restructuring. Mr Lindwall said at the presentation of the first quarter results at the end of April: “We follow a detailed plan and took several actions within different areas in the first quarter, aiming at getting Betsson back on track”, he had said, adding this would take time.

A company spokeswoman attributed the drop in the profit margin to a number of factors, including the revenue mix, “where we have grown the share of revenue from locally-taxed markets”.

She pointed out that the company had experienced “strong growth both organically and through acquisitions”, reaching a point where the organisation had to be restructured to become more efficient.

“We have made management changes, restructuring of the commercial and marketing teams and various other initiatives to improve ways of working and return on investment in general,” she said.

Mr Lindwall had referred to regulatory changes in Sweden and the Netherlands and the spokeswoman clarified that though the strategy was evolving the approach to Malta had not changed.

“The Swedish market will probably be re-regulated in January 2019 and Betsson will probably apply for licences. The re-regulation in the Netherlands is moving forward at a slower pace. Betsson also sees long-term value in offering online gaming to customers under the Maltese licence,” she said.

The reduction in headcount, the spokeswoman continued, was one of the consequences of the restructuring, confirming that the headcount in Malta was 964 on March 31, 2018 and 1,018 a year earlier. However, she declined to comment on the individual personnel changes outside the senior management team, saying this was not company practice.

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