Amaya to move to Toronto, change name to Stars Group

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS -

MON­TREAL — The owner of Pok­erS­tars and other on­line gam­ing busi­nesses is chang­ing its cor­po­rate name and re­lo­cat­ing to Toronto as it con­tin­ues to evolve af­ter fac­ing tough times last year.

Mon­treal-based Amaya says it will be­come The Stars Group Inc. af­ter share­hold­ers give their ap­proval next month and move its head of­fice af­ter it hires a re­place­ment for its chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, who has an­nounced his re­tire­ment.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Rafi Ashke­nazi said the com­pany is mak­ing the changes as it con­tin­ues to grow and al­ter its gam­ing mix.

“As we un­dergo this trans­for­ma­tion, we look to em­brace the fu­ture of our busi­ness while also rec­og­niz­ing the in­cred­i­ble con­sumer good­will and loy­alty as­so­ci­ated with our pri­mary brand,” he said Fri­day dur­ing a con­fer­ence call.

Ashke­nazi, who re­placed found­ing CEO David Baa­zov last year, has been beef­ing up Amaya’s man­age­ment team, pay­ing down debt and re­duc­ing its ex­po­sure to pro­fes­sional on­line-poker play­ers.

Poker made up 69 per cent to Amaya rev­enues in this year’s first quar­ter, com­pared to 75 per cent a year ear­lier. On­line casino games and sports bet­ting grew to 27 per cent from 21 per cent in the first quar­ter of 2016.

Ashke­nazi just hired a Wil­liam Hill ex­ec­u­tive to drive merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions and is in the fi­nal stages of hir­ing a suc­ces­sor to chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Daniel Se­bag. His re­place­ment will work in Toronto.

Amaya, founded in 2004, be­came the world’s largest pub­licly listed on­line poker brand a decade later af­ter pur­chas­ing the Pok­erS­tars par­ent for US$4.9 bil­lion.

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