Rafi Ashkenazi, who was appointed interim chief executive officer of Amaya in March 2016 alongside his position as chief executive officer of the Rational Group (PokerStars), will now take up the role on a permanent basis.
Baazov has resigned effective Aug. 11, 2016. He said that he was “proud of [his] contributions in building Amaya into the successful company it is today, and [will] continue to be supportive of its strategy and management.”
A press release from Amaya thanked Baazov for his contributions to the company, which he personally founded.
Insider trading charges
In March 2016, Quebec securities regulators announced that they had filed several civil charges against Amaya’s then-CEO and chairman Baazov.
The charges involved “aiding with trades while in possession of privileged information,” better known to the layman as insider trading. This practice involves using your inside knowledge as an authority within a company to make profitable stock market trades or investments.
Additionally, Baazov was charged with influencing or attempting to influence the market price of the Montreal-based Amaya, as well as communicating privileged information. Amaya is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as AYA.
These charges came two months after Baazov announced a non-binding proposal from him to take the company private. At this point Baazov announced that he was taking a paid and temporary leave of absence; Ashkenazi was appointed interim CEO and Divyesh Gadhia interim chairman.
A committee of directors at Amaya will continue to work with the Quebec regulator.
The rise of Amaya – a $4.9 billion deal
Until 2014, Amaya was a relatively unknown gaming company who provided slots games and other online gaming software to various casinos.
That all changed in late 2014 when they staged a massive $4.9 billion takeover of the Rational Group, owners of PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site.
Baazov sold approximately $1.7 billion of Amaya stock and acquired significant amounts of credit to make the audacious purchase. At this time, Amaya stock was trading at just $7 and the company had $150 million in revenues.
By comparison, the Rational Group had posted $1.1 billion in revenues over the same period.
At the end of 2014, Amaya stock was trading for $33. This represented a 2,600 percent increase since Amaya was first traded in 2010.
Quarterly profit higher than expected
Alongside the announcement of Baazov’s resignation came Amaya’s quarterly profit reports, which were higher than anticipated after the acquisition of new customers.
The total revenue increased 10.2 percent year-on-year to $285,939,000 with net earnings of $22,497,000 showing a massive 252.5 percent increase; adjusted net earnings showed a significant 24.5 percent increase year-on-year.
Amaya’s recent job cuts
Amaya owns the Rational Group, which includes PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker site, and Full Tilt, a former giant of the online gaming world.
In late 2015, Amaya cut several positions from Full Tilt’s Dublin office before merging Full Tilt with PokerStars in May 2016, resulting in many more cuts. Recently, jobs in the London and Sydney offices of the Rational Group have been cut.