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Light & Wonder has revealed that its executive vice president, CFO, treasurer and corporate secretary Constance (Connie) James is set to receive a cash retention bonus of $500,000 next year.

In her role, James oversees the company’s global financial strategy and is responsible for executing financial best practices and maximising shareholder value, as well as overseeing the finance, accounting, tax, treasury, facilities, IT and procurement functions of the business.

The bonus has been promised as a result of the expected increase in James’ responsibilities and workload in light of the appointment of Matthew Wilson as the firm’s interim president and CEO, after Barry Cottle announced he would stand down from that position at the end of August.

While Cottle will support the transition as a consultant, Light & Wonder has commenced a search process to identify a permanent CEO and has engaged an unnamed US executive search firm to lead the process among both internal and external candidates.

In addition to James’ cash bonus, Light & Wonder will also waive continued service requirements with respect to time-vesting restricted stock units previously granted to her, which were scheduled to vest on 20 March 2023.

The agreement is dependent upon James remaining with the company through the filing of its annual report with the SEC on form 10-K, for the fiscal year ending 31 December 2022. That report is likely to be filed around March 2023.

James will also be entitled to the retention benefits and the waiver of any continued service requirements with respect to time-vesting restricted stock units in the event of her termination of employment by the company without “cause” or by James for “good reason” prior to the retention date.

James has played an integral part in the transformation of Light & Wonder’s balance sheet this year, with the business having completed the sale of its lottery segment to Brookfield Business Partners for $5.8bn in April, using the proceeds to pay down its significant debts.

At the time, ex-chief executive Cottle said: “The lottery business sale closing is a significant step towards streamlining our portfolio and strengthening our balance sheet as we execute on our strategy to transform our business with a singular focus on building great games and franchises to entertain our players wherever and whenever they want to play.”

Following the sale, James added: “We now have the financial flexibility and balance sheet integrity that, combined with our double-digit growth profile and high mix of digital and recurring revenues, give us a tremendous opportunity to continue to drive shareholder value.”

That divestment, along with the expected sale of its sports betting business to US media conglomerate Endeavor, allowed the supplier to significantly de-lever its balance sheet in Q2 2022, reducing the principal face value of debt outstanding by $4.9bn compared to Q1 2022, at a net debt leverage ratio of 3.6x, down from a 6.1x ratio.

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