Jette Nygaard-Andersen: M&A continues as key to Entain’s growth

Following its Q2 2022 earnings update, Entain has detailed continued focus on its M&A strategy as well as sustainability, as regulatory judgements in the UK loom. 

Sharing their perspectives in an investor earnings call, group CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen and CFO Rob Wood explained that the FTSE100 gambling firm’s acquisition strategy was ‘active as ever’. 

Assessing Entain’s global operations, Nygaard-Andersen pointed to the recent acquisition of BetCity.nl – bolstering the firm’s presence in the Netherlands – as well as continued success for its BetMGM joint venture with MGM Resorts in the US. 

“These types of partnerships really highlight that we think differently and more broadly about our customer acquisition opportunities, M&A continues to be a key part of our growth,” the CEO explained.

“Our recent announcement of the BetCity acquisition in the Netherlands, marks the fourth transaction so far this year, and the pipeline of opportunities remains exciting.”

Publishing its Q2 results yesterday, Entain revealed NGR growth of 18%, particularly driven by retail trading in the UK via its Ladbrokes Coral holdings, which recorded a revenue increase of 243%.

Despite this, the group’s enlarged online gambling division experienced a decline of 7%, with the firm citing closure in the Netherlands ahead of licensing under the KOA Act regime, COVID-19 lockdown comparators and ‘implementation of tight affordability measures in the UK’.

Although the BetCity.nl takeover has enabled the firm to secure a stronger foothold in the burgeoning Dutch online betting space, the situation in the UK remains more of a grey area due to the unknown conclusions of the Gambling Act Review. 

This has been compounded by the fact a further delay on the review’s white paper can be expected due to the unstable political situation in Westminster – Nygaard-Andersen acknowledged that it is ‘probably unlikely’ that the review outcome will come out prior to the summer recess process. 

Discussing the UK, Wood cited the aforementioned factor of enhanced affordability checks as having a ‘clearly significant’ impact on its operations in the country, with revenue from this market falling by 15% across the first six months of the year.

He added: “We expected to be down versus last year as we lapped lockdowns and the Euros in the prior year, we waited for Netherlands licensing, and the tighter affordability measures played through the UK ahead of the Gambling Act review. 

“However, the out-turn was ultimately behind our expectations from earlier in the year, due to a couple of headwinds.”

Despite these challenges, Andersen maintained confidence in Entain’s strategy going forward, referring to its focus on M&A and growth sitting alongside sustainability and responsibility ‘at the heart of our strategy’. 

The CEO detailed continued progress on sustainability, such as securing ‘advanced safer gambling status’ from GamCare as well as continuing development of the ARC (Advanced Responsibility and Care) programme.

“We have a diversified business across both geographies and product, providing relative resilience and also long term growth,” the CEO continued. “Our track record on M&A is strong, and we continue to grow through acquisition. 

“The underlying growth dynamics of our markets remain compelling with an ever growing and broadening audience, engaging with online betting and gaming. New markets are regulating, opening up further new opportunities. 

“We look at a potential total addressable market of over $160 billion as we grow in existing markets, into new geographies and into new verticals, creating a market opportunity three times larger than we operate in today.”

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