Amaya Names Ashkenazi CEO as Baazov Cuts Ties With Poker Company

Amaya Inc. named interim Chief Executive Officer Rafi Ashkenazi permanent CEO after founder David Baazov cut ties with the world’s biggest online poker company.

Baazov resigned from all positions within Amaya effective Thursday, the Pointe-Claire, Quebec-based company said in a statement. Baazov is the subject of an insider trading probe by Quebec’s securities regulator, which he said in March he planned to “vigorously” contest, calling the allegations false.

Amaya made the announcement as it reported second-quarter adjusted profit of 46 cents a share, topping the 37 cent estimate in a Bloomberg survey of four analysts. Revenue of $285.9 million beat the $279.2 million average estimate.

Amaya climbed 2.8 percent to C$21.81 at 9:46 a.m. in Toronto. Earlier the stock touched C$22.64, its highest intraday level since Nov. 10. The shares are up 25 percent this year.

Baazov, who has been planning to take Amaya private, took an indefinite leave of absence in March after the Quebec charges were laid. Ashkenazi was appointed interim CEO as a result.

A special board committee is continuing to review strategic alternatives “with the goal of determining the best outcome for Amaya and its shareholders,” the company said Friday. Talks are taking place with “a number of” unidentified parties, some of which have progressed, Amaya said without elaborating.

“While these discussions are advancing, there remains no guarantee that this process will result in a transaction of any kind,” Amaya said.

The special committee’s investigation of the Quebec regulator’s allegations is continuing, Amaya also said.

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