UK-listed operator Rank Group has appointed former William Hill Online chief executive Henry Birch as the company’s new CEO, replacing Ian Burke who will step down from the role in May.

Burke has been CEO and executive chairman of Rank since March 2006 but will leave the role on May 6th. He will remains with Rank as non-executive chairman however.

Rank said in a statement Thursday that the company’s board believed it would be “appropriate” to ensure that the company benefits from "some continuity to ensure a smooth transition of executive responsibilities."

Birch will take over as CEO, bringing with him more than twenty years of experience in the betting and gaming sector and in online and broadcast media.  

Currently a non-executive director of AIM-listed CFD trading platform operator PLUS 500 plc, he most recently served as CEO of William Hill Online, the joint venture between William Hill and Playtech. He stepped down from that role in October 2012 after four years in charge.

Prior to working at WHO, Birch was CEO of AIM-listed Leisure & Gaming, which owned and operated a number of online and retail betting and gaming subsidiaries including Betshop.com.

Prior to working at Leisure & Gaming, he was the chief operating officer of Bettingcorp, an Israeli company focused on the development and operation of online and interactive TV gaming platforms.  

Birch has also held management roles at Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting and Riffage, an early digital music operator based in Silicon Valley, and started his career working in the House of Commons.

“With his track record in the online betting and gaming sector, the Rank board believes that Henry is well-equipped to lead Rank's continued exploitation of growth opportunities in the gaming and leisure markets,” said the company.

“The board would like to thank Ian for his commitment and hard work over the past eight years and is delighted that, after consultation with a number of its shareholders, the company will continue to benefit from his significant experience in his role as non-executive chairman of Rank.”

Shares in Rank Group plc (Co. Data) (LSE:RNK) are currently trading up 0.65 per cent at 154.50 pence per share in London today.

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