Will Hill boss to step down


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Harding looking for a new challenge

One of the online gambling industry's highest profile and respected chief executives, David Harding (51) is to step down from the William Hill group's top spot at the end of 2007. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Harding said he was moving on after seven years at the UK bookmaking giant as he was seeking a new challenge.

Harding, who stands to gain GBP 7 million when he exits the bookmaker group at the end of the year, bringing his total remuneration over the past two years to over GBP 10 million, led the betting giant to flotation on the London Exchange in June 2002. Since then the share price has more than doubled. In a recent trading statement, William Hill said it was comfortable with analyst estimates for the year, referring to an earlier statement that it expects to see earnings before interest and tax for the full year come in at around GBP 297 million.

Harding holds GBP 5.4 million worth of stock options in William Hill, which, taking account of his salary, potential bonus and pension payments, could take his total pay package to GBP 7 million by the time he leaves at the end of the year, The Times calculates.

Over year 2006 his remuneration doubled from GNBP 540 067 to GBP 1 million, and during the last financial year the executive cashed in GBP 2.8 million worth of stock options.

A spokesman for William Hill told The Times newspaper that Harding was stepping down "for personal reasons" and was "considering his options" in searching for "another challenging role".

Will Hill chairman Charles Scott praised Hardings contribution saying he was leaving the company in good health. He added the board would continue to work closely with him during the transition to the new chief executive who is yet to be named as recruiting attempts to find the right leader continue.

Harding told The Telegraph newspaper: "Having spent seven years helping to build the company into the UK's leading bookmaker, the time is right to move on and I am looking forward to a new challenge." The Telegraph reported that the executive has recently become a father and wants a change of pace.

Harding joined William Hill from financial firm Scottish Amicable. In his time at the bookmaker, he has become increasingly voluble as an advocate for the industry in government and media circles.

The departure follows that last November of William Hill's chief operating officer Tom Singer, who had been regarded as a potential successor to Harding (see previous InfoPowa report). He stepped down after a review of the company's key executive roles found he was no longer required.

The William Hill group has recently been active in the Spanish gambling market, partnering up up with Spanish gaming group Codere, owner of several bingo, horsetrack and related betting operations in Spain and South America.