Shares in bookie William Hill (WMH) gained 6% as markets delivered a punishing verdict on sacked chief executive James Henderson's two-year spell in charge.

Pressure on Henderson piled up in 2015 after he oversaw a £400,000 loss on the European Union referendum verdict and delivered a profit warning following the Cheltenham Festival in March, one of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar.

An abrupt end to Henderson's tenure means chief financial officer Philip Bowcock is now in charge until a permanent replacement is found.


James Henderson: Shown the door after 30 years

In a sign of why Henderson was given his marching orders, Bowcock’s priority as interim boss is to turn around William Hill's online business.

In March, Henderson warned online profits could fall by between £20 million to £25 million in 2016. Delays in replacing its PC and mobile applications have been partly blamed.

William Hill has struggled under the strain of higher regulation and increasing taxes.

Online competition has also hit the business and mergers between rivals could add further pressure.

Paddy Power's merger with Betfair to form Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) and Ladbrokes’ (LAD) proposed tie-up with Coral could gobble up more market share.

Henderson, a 30-year veteran of the company having started out in one of its betting shops, failed to pull off a similar deal and there are concerns that the business is being left behind.

Web - William Hill - 21 July 2016

The FSTE 250 member expects to report an operating profit of between £260 million and £280 million for its half-year on 5 August.

This beats the £155.7 million recorded in the same period of 2015, but was still not enough to convince investors Henderson was the right man to lead William Hill forward.

Shares in William Hill are now trading at 292p.

Issue Date: 21 Jul 2016