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Light & Wonder CEO Barry Cottle departs

| By Richard Mulligan
Barry Cottle has stepped down from his position as president and chief executive of Light & Wonder (L&W), the business previously known as Scientific Games.

The group, which is undertaking a major realignment of its business strategy, has appointed Matt Wilson, currently executive vice-president and group chief executive of gaming, as interim chief executive.

L&W recently sold its lottery division – which kept the Scientific Games name – and is scheduled to divest its OpenBet sports betting business in the next month in a deal worth $800m, a third less than the $1.2bn originally agreed with IMG Arena-owner Endeavor in September 2021.

The group said it has commenced a search process to identify a permanent chief executive and has engaged a leading national executive search firm. It said it has a succession planning process in place and will consider both internal and external candidates.

Barry Cottle
Barry Cottle

“As we enter the next chapter of our growth journey as the leading cross-platform global game company, we are confident that now is the right time to make this leadership transition,” said Jamie Odell, executive chair of Light & Wonder.

“Our executive vice-chair, Toni Korsanos, and I have worked closely with Matt for over 10 years, including most recently as he has successfully worked to turn around and reposition Light & Wonder’s gaming business for long-term growth.

“We are confident that his strategic insights, deep industry knowledge, rich experience and impressive track record make him the ideal person to serve as interim CEO during this transition period.”

Odell praised the outgoing Cottle, who became chief executive of Scientific Games in June 2018 and signed a three-year contract extension in January 2021. Over the last year, the group has pursued a streamlining programme with a view to becoming “the leading cross-platform global game company focused on creating and launching great games fully cross-platform”.

It has sought to achieve this by agreements to sell its lottery and sports betting divisions and the rebranding as Light & Wonder from April 2022. The $5.8bn raised by the sale of its lottery division to private equity company Brookfield Business Partners in April 2022 also helped to reduce group debt.

Odell said: “We thank Barry for all of his contributions to the fundamental reshaping of the company that has positioned it for continued success. With our transformed balance sheet, continued strong business momentum and great progress executing on our capital allocation priorities, we see a tremendous opportunity to drive shareholder value.

“We look forward to working closely with Matt and the rest of the management team as we continue to execute on our strategic roadmap and deliver on our growth targets.”

In announcing Wilson’s appointment on an interim basis, the group reaffirmed its 2022-25 financial targets provided in May 2022. These include targeted 2025 consolidated adjusted EBITDA of $1.4bn or a compound annual growth rate of 15%. It added that it remains committed to executing on its strategic plan to achieve these financial targets.

On his appointment, Wilson said: “I am honoured to take on the role of interim CEO during this exciting time for our company.

“With a streamlined organisation, sharpened strategic focus and strengthened balance sheet, we are now better positioned than ever to capitalise on the incredible opportunities ahead for the business. I look forward to working closely with the rest of the leadership team in this new capacity as we continue to accelerate our progress as a sustainable growth company.”

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