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James to exit as CFO of Light & Wonder

| By Robert Fletcher
Light & Wonder has announced that Connie James is to step down from her roles as chief financial officer, executive vice-president, treasurer and company secretary.
Light & Wonder

James will depart Light & Wonder to pursue other opportunities outside the gambling industry. She will step down with effect from 25 August.

Oliver Chow, senior vice-president of corporate finance at Light & Wonder, will become interim CFO upon James’ departure. He will serve in the role until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Light & Wonder has already commenced a search to identify and appoint a new CFO.

Cultural and financial transformation

James joined Light & Wonder in 2020 when the business was known as Scientific Games. She was CFO of Scientific Games and retained this role following the rebrand last year.

Prior to this, James had a short spell at food corporation Cargill after more than nine years at Aristocrat. While at the gambling business she held senior roles including CFO for land-based gaming.

Earlier in her career, she also spent time working at Deloitte Australia. 

Light & Wonder chief executive Matt Wilson paid tribute to James and the part she played in the company’s transformation.

“Connie has played a key role in advancing Light & Wonder’s cultural and financial transformation, which has led to operational excellence, double-digit growth and a strengthened balance sheet,” Wilson said.

“She also helped us build a deep and talented finance team that will help provide a smooth transition to the next chapter of financial leadership within the company. On behalf of the board and management team, I wish her well in her future endeavours.”

James added: “Serving alongside such a talented team has been a highlight of my career, and I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. We have scaled our business, evolved our capital allocation strategy and driven considerable efficiencies that have created a stronger, more flexible Light & Wonder. 

“I’m confident Light & Wonder is well-positioned for continued success and focused on ensuring a seamless transition.”

“Continued execution of our financial priorities”

Chow joined Light & Wonder in October 2022 after also working at Aristocrat for five years. At Aristocrat, he spent time as CFO for Americas, EMEA and customer experience, as well as VP of commercial finance.

Prior to this, he was senior director of finance at Universal Pictures and VP of finance for Deluxe Entertainment Services. Chow also held several finance roles at JPMorgan Chase.

“We are pleased and fortunate to have a leader of Oliver’s calibre step into the role of interim CFO,” Wilson said. “He brings more than 15 years of entertainment and gaming leadership experience and deep financial expertise.

“We’re confident Oliver is well-positioned to support the continued execution of our financial priorities while the board conducts its search.”

Reaffirming financial targets

Light & Wonder used the announcement of James’ departure to reiterate certain financial targets. This comes ahead of the business publishing its second quarter results in August.

The business remains on track to achieve adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $1.40bn by 2025.

This declaration followed a successful first quarter during which Light & Wonder reported a 17.1% year-on-year increase in revenue. This, Light & Wonder said, was helped by record performances by its igaming and SciPlay social gaming businesses.

The group experienced double-digit growth across all its business segments during the three months to 31 March. Its gaming division remaining by far its primary source of revenue.

Revenue in the first quarter amounted to $670m, up from $572m in the corresponding period last year. This was broken down as $477m from services and $193m from product sales.

Gaming revenue increased 18% to $419m. Gaming operations revenue edged up to $160m, gaming services revenue climbed 8% to $55m and table products revenue was level at $46m.

Revenue from the SciPlay business jumped 18% to $186m, the highest-ever quarterly figure from this segment. Igaming revenue was up 10% year-on-year to $65m, helped by growth in the US market.

SciPlay acquisition proposal

In the weeks that followed, Light & Wonder announced a proposal to acquire the remaining public shares in SciPlay for approximately $422m. 

The group currently holds 83% of the economic interest in the business, with the proposed purchase to be priced at $20 per share. L&W also has 98% of the voting interest in SciPlay.

The consideration would imply an enterprise value of $2.1bn for SciPlay and a premium of 28.5%. This was based on SciPlay’s closing stock price as of the close of business on 17 May, the last trading day before the proposal. 

Should the acquisition go through as expected, SciPlay would become a wholly owned subsidiary of L&W.

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