Will Tom Waterhouse’s William Hill survive the bookie bust?

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The Tom Waterhouse-led William Hill lost $144 million in 2015. Photo: Louise KennerleySick of all the bookies trying to lead you astray during the feeding frenzy that is the Spring Racing Carnival?
Nanjing Night Net

It might give you some comfort to know that there will probably be fewer of them to contend with next year.

William Hill’s local operation – run by the very popular Tom Waterhouse – lost £72.1 million in 2015. That equated to a loss of $144 million in local currency, according to the accounts of its subsidiary William Hill Australia Holdings Pty Ltd.

The single biggest factor in the loss was writing off the value of the various brands it had paid so much money for – like the Tom Waterhouse business – which it dumped in favour of its own British brand.

It has struggled since the change.

And then you have the government’s decision this year to enforce laws which prevent these online bookies from taking in-play sports bets.

It kills off one of the big money-spinners the new entrants were relying on when they paid so much money to enter the Australian market during the past decade. It makes it easy to see why some of the operators might opt out of a market which requires a massive marketing spend to compete for scraps.

For every dollar William Hill took from punters last year, 25¢ was spent on marketing and advertising to these same punters.

It is why William Hill is among a number of new entrants which are expected to pack their bags and depart our shores rather than throw more money at what appears to be a losing proposition.

Bet365 is another, so is Unibet.

But don’t look to Waterhouse at Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup for any hints about the company’s future in Australia – he isn’t on the board of William Hill Australia Holdings Pty Ltd.Shortlife  

With the release of various financial statements last week, it looks like we can finally draw a line under Unilife’s adventure with its colourful Irish/Aussie boss, Alan Shortall.

“The company no longer has a relationship with Mr Shortall or Mr Bosnjak,” said Unilife of its former CEO and his mate Jim Bosnjak who sat on the board for many years.

Shortall was meant to provide consulting services to the retractable syringe marker until 2018 but this was terminated by the company at the end of July “as a result of Mr Shortall’s failure to fulfil his duties”.

This was obviously before the company launched an investigation into the “possible violations of law and regulation” by Shortall and Bosnjak which led to the restatement of past financial statements.

The company re-confirmed in its recent announcement that it “has not identified any material financial loss to the company”.

Note the use of the word “material”.

According to Unilife, Shortall “caused” roughly $57,000 of company funds to be transmitted to a third party on behalf of Bosnjak “which had no business purpose for the company” and the company is evaluating potential actions to recover the money.

There are also $94,000 worth of personal expenses that the company paid on Shortall’s behalf. The company said it has demanded repayment of the sum but said recovery from its former boss is uncertain.

It is a pity the financially embattled company did not know this before it paid out around $US1.4 million in cash to Shortall in March as part of the agreement ending his employment. This included severance pay, bonuses and holiday pay.

Another interesting titbit is that it appears that Shortall has relocated from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, back to our shores.

Its cash payments to Shortall, ending his employment with the company in March this year, included $US100,000 “for all reasonable relocation expenses incurred by Mr Shortall and his family for repatriation to Australia.”

So, welcome back Alan and drop me a line sometime to let us know about your latest venture.

Just imagine what he could do with all of that experience and the money he earned while running Unilife which generated losses approaching $500 million during his tenure.

The new CEO, John Ryan, is promising a much more sedate ride as Unilife dumps its original retractable syringe business to focus on the “wearable injectors” market.

“We are building an organisation on a foundation of integrity, accountability, and operational discipline,” promised Ryan, which probably means he would also like to make a profit at some stage.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.