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GVC in £750mln plunge as CEO and chair trouser £20mln from share sales

CEO Kenneth Alexander said he and chairman Lee Feldman “remain convinced of the exciting prospects” for GVC, so much so that they sold off £19.7mln worth of shares

ladbrokes shop
The two men have vowed not to sell any more shares while they remain at GVC

GVC Holdings PLC (LON:GVC) saw more than £700mln wiped from its value on Friday morning after the gambling giant’s chief executive and chairman sold off a huge chunk of their personal stakes.

CEO Kenneth Alexander raked in £13.7mln after selling off more than half of his shares, while chairman Lee Feldman trousered £6.0mln after getting rid of three-quarters of his stake.

READ: GVC off to a flying start in 2019

Alexander tried to reassure investors by stating that both he and Feldman “remain fully committed” to GVC, which owns the Ladbrokes and Coral bookmakers.

“I'm here for the long term and at the very least I have a current plan that will take three-plus years to accomplish,” he added.

“We reported excellent results earlier this week and we both remain convinced of the exciting prospects for the business. Therefore, while we continue at GVC we will not reduce our holdings below the current levels.”

But the share sales – and the sheer size of them – did little to comfort the market, which generally doesn’t react kindly to seeing bosses slash their personal stakes in the businesses they run.

After all, if they were that confident in the company’s future, they probably wouldn’t be cashing in now.

GVC shares tumbled 18.1% to 560.3p, valuing the company at just shy of £3.3bn.

Has GVC’s luck ran out?

“There is a widely used phrase in investing that says ‘follow the money’,” explains AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

“In GVC’s case, shareholders are following this advice to the letter as the gambling company’s share price dives amid news of hefty share sales by directors.”

“The market is clearly confused as to why the pair have decided to sell down now if there is still value to be created.”

He added: “The gambling sector continues to come under increasing regulatory pressure, clouding the outlook for earnings.

“GVC has done a great job of buying underperforming businesses and fixing them but has its luck run out given the diminishing number of acquisition targets?”

Quick facts: GVC Holdings

Price: 857.4 GBX

AIM:GVC
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £4.99 billion
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