William Hill’s Month from Hell: The Recap
What happens when you cross a rabbi, a fish feeder and a ping pong player? That’s what the higher-ups at William Hill Online (WHO) were facing as turmoil at its Tel Aviv office came to a head this week. It got so bad that company CEO Ralph Topping travelled to Israel to fire several high level managers at the troubled branch.
Topping’s actions came after a month of drama in the Holy Land that could rival an episode of The Jersey Shore and ultimately impact the company’s future.
Earlier this month WHO’s Chief Marketing Officer Eyal Sanoff resigned after hearing rumors that the company’s Israeli operation would be shipped off to Gibraltar. But troubles at the Tel Aviv branch suggest other factors were at play.
In September, Sanoff apparently refused to comply with internal audit order by corporate and conducted by ex-Israeli intelligence officers. Sanoff initially balked at auditor’s requests to access his computers and file. His resignation came three days late before a corporate imposed deadline to comply. He’s now threatening legal action against William Hill for breach of contract.
The audit uncovered both a plan to open a rival operation, and evidence of questionable expense reporting. Those questionable expenses read like a bad Vaudeville joke and are believed to include ping pong lessons, Rabbi services and fish feeding.
Though WHO officials reassured staffers that the Tel Aviv office would remain open, events on the ground had them convinced a move was imminent.
On Sunday, none of the employees at the branch office showed up for work. As the week wore on, small numbers of them reported for duty, but most stayed home.
The walkout prompted Topping to travel to Israel and take matters into his own hands. This week he fired at least seven managers and disciplined a number of others.
WHO is a joint operation that combines elements of both Playtech Cyprus Ltd. and William Hill PLC. Hill is the primary partner in the venture and retains the option to buy the rest of the company in 2013. Some sources have suggested that the events in Tel Aviv may move that action forward.
WHO operations have not been significantly impacted by resignations or walkouts but this kind of press can’t be good for business.
What do you think about the drama at WHO? Let us know in our Affiliates United/William Hill – Is It Game Over? forum thread