News Web

The Telegraph: Gaming chief to cash in his chips

Mitch Garber has quit unexpectedly as chief executive of PartyGaming, but is still in line to make around £12m for a three-year stint in charge of the internet poker, casino and betting group.

Mr Garber, 43, a Canadian national, stunned investors by becoming the second chief executive in less than two years to quit for family reasons.

His predecessor, Richard Segal, cashed in his chips in February 2006, pocketing more than £30m for under two years’ work, after refusing to uproot his family from London to Gibraltar, where PartyGaming is based.

Mr Garber, who is married with two children, said his family had decided to move back to North America. They currently split their time between Gibraltar and Tel Aviv.

Mr Garber said: “It may seem to you that I’ve only just arrived. It doesn’t feel that way to me.

I felt, with my family, that after three years we would like to move back.” He joined PartyGaming in April 2006, shortly before it lost 75pc of revenues as a result of America’s outlawing of internet gambling. He rebuilt the business to focus on new markets.

His package included 42m nil-paid shares, vesting in tranches until May 2009. At yesterday’s share price of 25p, down 2½, he can pocket around £12m if he sees out his contract.

He told the board last week he was minded to quit and confirmed his decision to chairman Michael Jackson on Tuesday before yesterday’s full-year results, where net revenues from continuing operations rose from $325m (£163m) to $476m.

He will stay until a successor is installed. John O’Malia, recently promoted to chief games officer, is a leading internal candidate. Finance director Martin Weigold ruled himself out.

Mr Garber denied he had made so much money he had no incentive to work. ” It’s not the money I’m attracted to but the challenges.”

He stressed the business was in “good shape”, with poker revenues up 10pc to $295m, casino up 188pc to $147m and sports betting up threefold to $16.1m. Pre-tax profits from continuing businesses of $6.7m reversed last time’s $77.4m losses, though revenues in the last five weeks have been “lower than expected”.

Mr Jackson said: “Mitch has done a great job. He felt it was the right time to go. It’s different from Richard Segal, it’s more of an orderly transition.”