by Renee Israel
Ralph Topping, current Chief Executive Officer of leading UK gambling group,
William Hill, has committed to heading up the company until the end of 2015.
Topping said on Thursday that he would continue in his role as CEO of the
group, despite the fact that he had been widely expected to step down from the
British gaming giant at the end of 2013.
The news of the extension of Topping's tenure was greeted with satisfaction
by William Hill's board, who issued a statement shortly after the CEO's
"The board is delighted that Ralph will remain with the group for the coming
years as we continue to manage the succession planning for the chief executive
role," said the group in its statement.
The search is already on for a successor, and William Hill is examining
options from inside and outside the firm.
In June 2011, William Hill said that it would be retaining Topping until at
least the end of 2013, and the news that this time frame would extend to 2015
came as a surprise to industry analysts.
Forty Three Years with William Hill
Ralph Topping has spent the past 43 years with William Hill and stepped into
the role of CEO in 2008.
During his time as head of the UK gambling group, Ralph Topping has overseen
massive growth for the company, including overseas expansion.
Most recently, Topping headed the deal to take over Playtech's share of
William Hill Online, as well as the acquisition of the Sportingbet's Australian
interests. Both deals involved sums of over £800 million.
Shares for the group have risen 74% in the past year.
William Hill CEO Ralph Topping has not been without controversy, and
was recently criticised by shareholders for accepting a £1.2 million retention
bonus. Nearly half of the group's investors voted against the big pay deal.
William Hill in Strong Market Position
Market analysts believe that William Hill is in a strong market
position, as the industry moves away from traditional high street betting to
online and mobile betting, especially in-play products.
In 2009 William Hill paid out total dividends of 7.5p per share,
increasing the sum to 10.4p a share in 2012. Analysts forecast that the
dividends will keep rising and reach 11.4% this year and 12.7p in 2014.
William Hill trades at 16.1 times its 2012 earnings and will
continue to have a larger stake in fast-growing markets around the world.