I was appointed CEO and President of Betsson AB on the 1 March 2016. However, I have worked within the group since 2012 as the CEO for the core investment, Betsson Malta ltd, a role I will continue to hold, in parallel with my new assignment.
It is an exciting time for our company as we are investing in an industry, affected by many of the mega trends we see in the world around us. Our job will be to make sure our group is ready to capitalize on the opportunities that these changes bring to the table.
Betsson reported strong financial results in 2015. The revenues grew by 22.6%, reaching a record SEK 3 722 million. EBIT was
SEK 831.7 million and earnings per share grew to 6.02 SEK. The high growth went in tandem with one of the highest margins in the industry allowing the Betsson share to significantly outperform index in 2015.
LONGER TERM VIEW
The online gaming industry is still in its infancy. 90 per cent of gaming worldwide is still offline. In the next few years we will continue to see structural growth as customers move online. This will bring about a weakening and a breakdown of old monopolies across Europe. This environment represents a strong tail wind for our business.
At Betsson we take a long term view. We have faced many challenges since the company was founded in 1963 – new regulations, changing technology, competition, various taxes.
In spite of this, Betsson has prospered, and evidence of this is that Betsson has been one of the best investments on the Stockholm Stock Exchange in the last 10 years (in competition with companies like H&M, Ericsson and Autoliv). Betsson has a remarkable ability to reinvent itself and we will continue to do so.
Innovation is in our DNA, and I have experienced this first hand during my almost 4 years as CEO for our operational business in Malta. Whatever challenges may come our way we will adapt and find the solution so we can continue to grow and deliver value to you, our shareholders.
In the Betsson subsidiaries we have passionate employees who work relentlessly, day in and day, out to improve the customers' experiences. One of our fundamental beliefs is in people and their ability to influence and have an impact. In addition, we have a very strong strategy based on five big ideas: Customer-centricity, Data, Digital Marketing, Multi-brand and One Platform. These, we believe, provide the foundation for excellence. The strategy and the ability to execute it have been delivering great value in the last few years. We have a firm belief that this development will continue.
THE ROLE OF BETSSON AB
Betsson AB’s business idea is to invest in and govern fast-growing companies operating in the online gaming industry. It is important for you as a shareholder to understand the macro-environment we operate in as it directly affect Betsson’s operation.
STRUCTURAL MARKET GROWTH
While many seem to be chasing the next big thing. Betsson knows that the next big thing is already here. As I mentioned above we see structural growth in our markets as players continue to move online and to mobile devices. Globally only
10 percent is playing online and in Sweden this figure is still low, at around 35 percent. This provides for a significant opportunity in the next few years.
REGULATION AND COMPLIANCE
Today Betsson already has businesses with licenses in Malta, Denmark, UK, Italy, Belgium, Estonia and Georgia. We see a wave of local regulation across Europe taking place and you will see the businesses moving into new markets by applying for more local licenses during 2016.
As with any heavily regulated industry, evolving regulation drives complexity in our operation and an increase in costs of compliance. One of these costs are local revenue taxes, so called point of consumption taxes.
However, increased cost for compliance creates investment opportunities, as some competitors that do not have critical volume will be forced to leave certain markets. It also represents a growth opportunity, as monopolies for the first time will be exposed to real and fair competition. As a consequence, we want to increase the share of sustainable revenue, which to us is revenue that is locally taxed and/or locally regulated.
In the midst of the above mentioned regulation there is also wave of consolidation sweeping over the industry, as players want to secure economies of scale in the face of these increased compliance costs. Betsson has been active in this consolidation with the acquisition of Europe-bet in 2015 and Oranje & Kroon in 2014 and we will continue to be a buyer in the consolidation of the fragmented online gaming industry.
INVESTMENT STRATEGY FOR BETSSON
We want to capitalize on the opportunities our macro environment is providing. Consequently we will continue to search for attractive acquisition targets, primarily in Europe that operates on markets that is locally regulated or are about to be locally regulated. However, we are also opportunistic and will always consider a good opportunity that does not necessarily fit in that framework.
For 2016 you as a shareholder should not expect any big changes in the course of direction:
1) We will continue to actively look for acquisition opportunities
2) We will aim to grow sustainable revenues
3) We will ensure that our investments deliver operational excellence and execute on their strategy
I feel enormously fortunate to be part of the remarkable Betsson journey. There are of course plenty of challenges presented along the road, but I feel we have a strong foundation. You can always count on us to work hard, find new ideas to improve and grow our business and take advantage of the opportunities unfolding in front of us.
CEO & President Betsson AB