Eight Months Later, a New Face for William Hil

21 February 2008

William Hill said today that it's eight-month search for a chief executive has ended.

Ralph Topping, the bookie's former U.K. operations head, was appointed chief executive with immediate effect.

William Hill was rumored to have lined up Brian Wallace, finance director at rival Ladbroks, to replace David Harding, but the plan failed to materialize when Wallace decided to remain with Ladbrokes.

Reuters says the move prompted speculation that Wallace was persuaded to stay at Ladbrokes with "a promise of the top job," meaning that current Chief Executive Chris Bell would have to make way.

A Ladbrokes spokesman told the news source today however that "there was absolutely no truth or foundation to the rumor."

Meanwhile, Charles Scott, chairman of William Hill, called Topping's appointment "first class" and said that the company would benefit from his "deep knowledge" following 35 years in the industry.

Topping said he was ready to face new challenges that came from new regulation in the industry. He also underlined the online business as an area to be further developed.

"I look forward to leading the company as chief executive, and to working with the board and management team," he added. "We will build on the company's successes and drive the company forward."

In January, William Hill announced it was ditching its in-house I-gaming software development program in favor of an outsourced solution.

"A couple of years back, we believed we could get an advantage over our competitors by developing our own system but, in truth, we are not software developers," Scott said at the time.

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