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Baazov quits last Amaya posts, interim replacement becomes permanent CEO

MONTREAL – Amaya’s largest shareholder, David Baazov, has resigned the last of his positions with the online gaming company — four months after he took a paid leave to fight charges laid against him by Quebec’s securities regulator.

The Montreal-based company — which became prominent two years ago with the purchase of PokerStars — announced Baazov’s departure and his replacement early Friday along with the company’s latest quarterly financial report.

“It became clear to Mr. Baazov that Amaya needed to secure a permanent steward for the company,” said Ian Robertson, a spokesman for the gaming executive.

“Even if the company is engaged in an ongoing a strategic process it needs a clear leader to can run the day-to-day operations.”

Rafi Ashkenazi, who was appointed as Amaya’s interim CEO in March, was named Baazov’s permanent replacement. Baazov previously decided against continuing on the company’s board of directors.

“After several years at the helm of the company, (Baazov) saw Rafi as perfect for the job and decided that it was to the best interest of Amaya to confirm him as permanent CEO,” Robertson added in a email.

Robertson added that Baazov remains involved in an effort by a group of investors that has indicated in interest in acquiring Amaya. The company also said Friday that talks with various unidentified parties are progressing.

A Baazov statement issued by the company said he’s proud of his “contributions in building Amaya” and “supportive of its strategy and management.”

Baazov has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya shares and with communicating privileged information. The case against Baazov, two other people and three companies, is due in a Quebec court on Sept. 7.

Amaya (TSX:AYA) beat analyst expectations the second quarter. Net earnings from continuing operations more than tripled to US$22.5 million. Adjusted profits surged to US$89.7 million or 46 cents per share. Revenues grew 10 per cent to US$285.9 million.

Analysts estimated 35 cents per share in adjusted earnings and US$273.3 million of revenue.