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Daly resigns as CEO of Catena Media

| By Robert Fletcher
Affiliate giant Catena Media has announced that Michael Daly is stepping down from his role as chief executive.
Catena Media CEO Daly

Daly’s resignation is effective immediately. Pierre Cadena, who is currently vice-president of corporate strategy at Catena, will assume the role of interim CEO.

As per the exit agreement, Daly will remain available to Catena during a transition period. Catena intends to launch a recruitment process to appoint a new CEO immediately.

“Under Michael Daly’s leadership, Catena has become an active player in North America and, with the actions taken during the strategic review, we have significantly reduced our debt and streamlined the organisation,” Catena chairman Göran Blomberg said.

“With the company facing lower growth, we have started to implement a number of growth initiatives. As we embark on this crucial stage, we are seeking new leadership to drive these initiatives and move Catena into its next chapter.”

Daly joined Catena in April 2018 as general manager for the US. He went on to serve as general manager for the Americas and president for North America, before becoming CEO in March 2021.

Prior to his time with Catena, Daly worked as an industry consultant and also had a spell as executive vice-president for North America at GAN.

Earlier in his career, he served as vice-president of online gaming for SHFL Entertainment. He also worked in several senior roles with Bally Technologies and spent time with Shuffle Master.

Disappointing 2023 for Catena

Daly’s exit comes just two weeks after Catena published a disappointing set of results for the 2023 financial year. The group registered a sharp decline in revenue. 

However, perhaps of most concern is a drop in US revenue, which declined 21% to €67.1m (£57.4m/$72.8m). Given that 80% of all revenue at Catena now comes from the US, with the group active in 27 North America jurisdictions, this could prove problematic moving forward.

There was more bad news for Catena in terms of new depositing customers from continuing operations. This amounted to 184,257, down 19%, although slightly cushioned by not-as-bad figures in Q1 and Q2.

In terms of its EBITDA, this also made for tough reading. Adjusted EBITDA from continuing operations fell by 47% to €25.4m, corresponding to an adjusted EBITDA margin of 33.0%.

What’s more, shortly after the results were released on 13 February, Catena’s share price plummeted. On the day, the price fell 10%, but in terms of year-on-year comparison, its share price was down 75% at the time.

Daly walks after calls for resignation 

While Daly did not hint at a possible departure at the time, there were some murmurings about a possible exit.

STS founder Mateusz Juroszek called for the Catena management to resign on the day. He went further by suggesting its assets should be sold on the market. 

“What a story in how to destroy a business,” Juroszek added in a LinkedIn post.

However, Daly initially stood firm, highlighting Catena’s latest series of investments, planned as a result of the strategic review launched in 2022. He said these would reinvent the group’s core technological focus.

He also drew attention to its cost reduction programme of around €4m to “optimise group operations” following recent divestments. These included offloading UK and Australian online sports brands to Moneta Communications in August 2023.

This level of restructure, Daly said, takes time to have an impact, with the now-former CEO calling for patience.

“A strategic reboot on the scale that we have undertaken can take time and test the patience of employees and shareholders,” he said earlier in the month.

However, with his departure now confirmed, it appears this patience, be it his own or that of the Catena board, has run out.

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