Row between shareholders and 888 chief emerges as reason for departure

A RIFT between the founding shareholders of online gambling firm 888.com and its outgoing chief executive has been revealed as the reason for Gigi Levy’s dramatic weekend departure.

Levy, who has been in charge at the firm since 2007, is stepping down to “pursue other interests”.

Yet a disagreement between 888’s founders – the Israeli Shaked and Ben-Yitzak families – who own 61 per cent of the firm between them, emerged yesterday.

Sources said there had been a souring of the relationship between the shareholders and Levy. The two sides are believed to have shared a difference in opinion over the future direction of the business.

888 is currently in deal talks with high street bookmaker Ladbrokes over a takeover. Discussions between the two are ongoing, despite Levy’s departure.

The online poker firm denied any link between Levy’s departure and the progress of the deal.

Ladbrokes is said to be weighing an increased offer for 888, following five months of protracted talks.

The bookmaker had initially offered 70p per share for the company, valuing it at around £240m.

888 reported a steep fall in 2010 profits earlier last month.