Spanish gaming firm Codere has reportedly started 2018 with a change at the top as Vicente Di Loreto has been appointed to replace Jose Antonio Martinez Sampedro as its Chief Executive Officer.

According to a report from SBCNews, Di Loreto served as the Madrid-based firm’s Latin America Chief Operating Officer for five years from 2005 and is to be supported in his new role by Norman Raul Sorensen Valdez as Executive Chairman, who has replaced the exiting Luis Javier Martinez Sampedro.

“Codere is a great organization that has managed to be at the forefront in recent decades,” reportedly read a statement from Di Loreto. “Our intention is to continue creating value and enhancing our experience to address new projects and capture opportunities for growth.”

SBCNews reported that the appointment of Di Loreto came following requests from some of the private equity firms holding a share of Codere’s estimated debt of €1 billion ($1.2 billion), which was successfully restructured last year, and means that leadership of the company has been taken away from the Martinez Sampedro family for the first time since its founding in 1980.

But, SBCNews reported that the Martinez Sampedro family maintains an 18% shareholding in Codere and will likely challenge the Di Loreto appointment at the firm’s next shareholders meeting.

Under the leadership of Jose Antonio Martinez Sampedro, last year reportedly saw Codere attempt to reduce its overall debt by concentrating on its core markets in Spain while accelerating growth in Argentina and Mexico alongside entering the newly-regulated sector in Colombia. The moves seem to have paid off somewhat as the company revealed in September that it had experienced a 7.2% increase year-on-year in operating revenues for the six months to the end of June to just over $975.5 million. Moreover, it declared an operating profit of nearly $77.3 million for the six-month period, which compared with a deficit of over $1.4 million for the corresponding half in 2016, while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rocketed up by 42.5% to slightly over $145 million.

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