Bwin.party co-chief Jim Ryan quits

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Norbert Teufelberger, the online gaming boss called in for questioning by Belgium police last month, will steer bwin.party digital entertainment alone in the new year after Jim Ryan, co-chief executive, announced his departure.

The two men have shared the chief executive role since March 2011, when bwin Interactive Entertainment merged with PartyGaming (Berlin: P2G1.BE - news) to form the world’s largest listed online gaming group.

Mr Ryan, who was chief executive of PartyGaming before the deal, will step down on January 15 to return to his native Canada after living in Gibraltar for the last six years.

Mr Teufelberger was called in for police questioning while attending a gaming conference in Brussels last month following allegations bwin was taking bets “illegally” from Belgian punters. He was released without charge.

Simon Duffy, non-executive chairman of bwin, said Mr Ryan had been “instrumental” in integrating bwin and PartyGaming and had also overseen the company’s launch into a number of newly regulated markets in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) .

“As the merger integration approaches its final stages, and having secured a series of strategic partnerships including MGM, Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD - news) , United Auburn and Zynga, Jim now wants to return to Canada with his family,” Mr Duffy said.

Investec (EUREX: INVF.EX - news) analyst James Hollins said Mr Ryan’s departure was “not a huge surprise” although bwin is losing a “good operator”.

Shares were down 0.4 to 108.6p in early trading after losing almost a quarter of their value over the last year on concerns over key markets such as Germany, where operators have been hit with a 5pc sports betting tax.

bwin warned in July that the tax in Germany, where it generates more than a fifth of its net gaming revenues, would wipe €5m (£4m)-€10m off its full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

Mr Ryan, who has a 12-month notice period, received £1.1m last year in salary, benefits and cash bonus.