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William Hill Fires Seven, Reopens Tel Aviv Office

William Hill has dismissed seven senior managers, after the resignation of chief marketing officer Eyal Sanoff exposed a plan to set up a rival business—the cause of the uprising that led to the walkout of hundreds of employees in Israel, Bulgaria and the Philippines.

Henry Birch, head of William Hill Online, and Jim Mullen, the joint venture’s chief operating officer, will be based in Tel Aviv for the next few months to oversee the transition.

In an announcement today to the London Stock Exchange, Playtech revealed that the marketing team in Tel Aviv has returned to work 10 days after more than 180 employees walked out in protest.

Playtech’s Mor Weizer said: “Having been asked by William Hill’s chief executive, Ralph Topping, to assist, I am very pleased that this issue is now behind William Hill Online. It is very positive for both shareholders that the business can now continue to move forward.”

Sanoff resigned after William Hill management demanded an internal audit and day-to-day access to the computer systems in Tel Aviv. After he refused to comply for months, the bookmaker gave Sanoff a September 30 ultimatum, though William Hill denies the claim.

After hiring former Israeli intelligence officers to go through the systems, William Hill claims to have found plans for a rival business. According to The Telegraph‘s Alistair Osborne, the intelligence officers also found that “a rabbi, fish feeder and hairdresser were on the books,” as well as a “string of payments from the Tel Aviv business for table-tennis coaching for managers.”

Employees were allegedly told that William Hill planned to close the Tel Aviv operation, with Sanoff offering to re-employ them in a new business. William Hill maintains it has “no intention” of closing the Tel Aviv office.

Chief executive Ralph Topping met his opposite number at Playtech Mor Weizer over the weekend to discuss the working relationship between the two companies. The British bookmaker, which owns 71% of William Hill Online, has a call option to buy out Playtech’s stake in October 2013.

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