Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Young Sang out at SVL - Peart takes charge of daily business operations as executive chairman

Published:Wednesday | March 25, 2020 | 12:25 AMNeville Graham/Business Reporter
Ann-Dawn Young Sang ... resigned as president and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Ann-Dawn Young Sang ... resigned as president and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Ann-Dawn Young Sang is out as president and CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited amid a reorganisation of the group that she led, and a prospective opening up of the market to new competition.

Her departure comes two and a half years after she was brought in to lead the company, and as she was touting plans to ramp up regional expansion of the group as the next phase of SVL’s evolution.

In another surprise change at the lottery and gaming company, Chairman Gary Peart has had ‘executive’ added to his title, and will be leading the daily operation of the company.

Peart told the Financial Gleaner that Young Sang resigned because she had ambitions, without saying what those were. Young Sang was not reached for comment.

It was only a month ago, in February, that Young Sang addressed the monthly Mayberry Investors Forum about the company’s reorganisation and future ambitions. There was no indication then that she would not have led the process. But on Tuesday morning, March 24, a notice was posted on the market, just as trading was about to begin for the day, that she had resigned from SVL, effective March 20.

The stock fell 3.07 per cent to $13.89 at market close on Tuesday, erasing most of the gains made on Monday when SVL traded had higher to $14.33.

Her departure comes as other players are said to be going after lottery licences to enter the market in which SVL is now the sole player.

“Ann-Dawn is actually one of the most qualified persons in the industry so we’re actually happy that we were able to hold on to her for almost three years. But people are ambitious, and when one has that level of qualification, right across the world, then we were lucky to hold on to her for that time,” Peart said, while not elaborating on what ‘ambitious’ meant in this context.

Mayberry is one of the top shareholders in SVL, controlling 17-18 per cent of the company, mainly through Mayberry Jamaican Equities Limited; and is represented on the gaming and lottery company’s board by Peart and Mayberry Executive Chairman Christopher Berry.

As to his assumption of another heavyweight position, the SVL executive chairman said while it was early days he does not foresee a problem running both operations as he will be acting mainly in a coordinating role at SVL.

“How this organisation is structured, my primary responsibility is strategic leadership and to manage the growth of the business,” he said.

He adds that SVL subsidiaries each have their own leader, with command over their own resources.

“I am basically coaching people on how to deal with their people, and we’re empowering as we go straight down [the line],” Peart said, adding that he has a strong team at Mayberry and an equally strong team at SVL.

“At the other layers are CEOs with boards for each of the subsidiaries; so my role is that of coaching those CEOs and to ensure that the strategic plan is executed. I might even end up with more time because a large part of what I do is coaching,” he said.

As to how long the current structure would remain in effect, he said the board would make a determination over time, depending on how the company performs.

“The board will make a judgement as we go along. Whomever it is, it’s all about the execution of the plan; and we will reassess as we go down the road,” he said.

“This is what this game is all about; you have to hit numbers …. if you don’t hit numbers then somebody else will have to do it.”

The team he will oversee includes Xesus Johnston, the CEO in charge of the revenue side of the business; Dennis Chung, who “controls the entity that employs a lot of the people in the business; Heather Goldson, who is in charge of marketing; Solomon Sharpe and Lorna Gooden, who are in charge of racetrack subsidiary Supreme Ventures Racing & Entertainment Limited as chairman and general manager, respectively; and Wayne Matthews, who is in charge of SVL’s Guyana operations.

Young Sang was hired as CEO of Supreme Ventures on October 2, 2017. She previously worked with SVL’s technology partner International Game Technology, IGT, for 16 years, since 2001.

Over her tenure at SVL, Young Sang has delivered record earnings each year. The company made $2 billion of net profit in 2018; and $2.47 billion in 2019, its best performance yet, notwithstanding losses linked to the Caymanas Park horse racing business totalling $214 million in that period and $820 million since the acquisition from the Jamaican Government.

Its deal with the Government requires SVL to pump $500 million into the horse racing track over five years.

It was clear at the Mayberry Forum that SVL director Berry was unhappy with the losses at the racetrack. He berated the ‘hands-off approach of Government’, charging that since the acquisition nothing was given by way of concessions that would encourage SVL to continue investing in the turnaround of Caymanas Park, which was a loss-making operation at its takeover.

At her departure Friday, Young Sang was in the middle of ramping up expansion plans to enter other regional markets, having got operations going in Guyana.

She had also been buying up rival bookmakers, with SVL now dominating that market. And, in an interview with the Financial Gleaner at the top of March, she said that one of the areas she was now exploring as a new source of revenue was the company’s tech assets and data processing capabilities.