The CEO of Amaya Inc., the parent company of the world’s most popular online poker site, has taken a leave of absence from his position for an indefinite period of time. David Baazov announced that he will be leaving the organisation for a while, after growing concern about insider trading taking place within the company.
Quebec’s securities regulator Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) have filed five charges against Baazov, who has been at the helm of the successful international company for several years. He has made a statement regarding the issue, saying “I continue to be dedicated to doing the right thing for Amaya and all its stakeholders. I believe that stepping down in the short term will help to avoid distraction for the company and its management while I vigorously contest all allegations made against me and pursue my bid to acquire the company.”
Amaya issued a press release about the matter, stating that the leave of absence will allow Baazov to effectively focus on preparing an offer to acquire Amaya and “avoid a distraction for the company while he responds to certain allegations made against him by the AMF.” Baazov will still remain as a member of the company’s board of directors during his period of absence as head of the company. The interim CEO has been announced as Rafi Ashkenazi, and Dave Gadhia as Interim Chairman. Gadhia has been a director at Amaya for the past five years and is experienced in the role. Before joining Amaya, Gadhia worked as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice Chairman of Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited.
The new interim CEO, Ashkenazi, has served as a CEO of the Rational Group since 2015. Before that role, he worked in the role of Senior Vice President of Strategy for Amaya. he has wide experience in the online poker industry and is viewed as a wise choice for the Amaya CEO role.
The AMF has charged Baazov with “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information, influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the securities of Amaya inc., and communicating privileged information”. Despite this, he has made it clear that he intends to make an all-cash offer to buy Amaya Inc. and take the company off the market.
The company have already confirmed that “Mr. Baazov has advised Amaya that he continues to intend to make an offer to acquire the company”. However, his offer has not been accepted or acted upon yet, as Amaya explained, “the Special Committee has not made a determination as to whether a sale of Amaya is in the best interests of the company at this time. The Special Committee will consider any offer made by Mr. Baazov and any expressions of interests made by third parties if and when any such offers or expressions of interest are made.