London-listed bookmaker William Hill has announced the departure of chief executive officer James Henderson.

Henderson is stepping down as chief executive with immediate effect, with chief financial officer Philip Bowcock assuming the CEO role on an interim basis while the search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

The company added that an interim CFO will be appointed in due course.

Gareth Davis, chairman of William Hill, commented: "James's career with William Hill has spanned over 30 years covering the Retail, Online and international businesses. We would like to thank him for his significant contribution and we wish him all the best for the future.

"Philip has a clear set of priorities as Interim CEO, principally the continued turnaround of the Online business. We will confirm a successor in the coming months."

Henderson's departure comes two weeks before the company is due to announce its results for the first half of 2016, with William Hill confirming that group trading remains in line with the previous guidance of £260-280m in operating profit for the full year.

Leisure analyst Simon French of Cenkos Securities said that Henderson's departure does not come as a surprise given the operational and financial underperformance in recent quarters.

"This has been accompanied by a multitude of management changes which appear to have destabilised rather than steadied the ship," French noted. "Shareholders will be reassured by confirmation that trading remains in line with the previous guidance but we suspect this in part reflects strong results from Euro 2016. We expect a successor with industry experience to be appointed with Henry Birch and Patrick Kennedy likely to be considered."

Shares in William Hill plc. (Co. Data) (LSE:WMH) closed in London Wednesday, prior to the announcement, up 2.27 per cent at 275.10 pence per share.


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