Betfair falls short of World Cup high

Steve Dinneen
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BETFAIR shares surged more than five per cent per cent yesterday despite falling short of the heights it reached during last year’s World Cup.

The betting exchange was buoyed by record mobile phone betting as well as strong trading at Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and the Open Golf Championship.

It said its first quarter revenue fell seven per cent to £80.8m, beating analyst forecasts of £79m.

The company reiterated its full-year revenue target of £346m.

Chief financial officer Stephen Morana said he is “pretty comfortable that the signs are positive for the rest of the year.”

Betfair floated at £13 a share last October and rose as high as £16 before losing 50 per cent of its value, dogged by the regulatory concerns casting a shadow over the gaming industry.

The gaming giant has been forced to shutter its poker and games business in Italy over clashes with regulators and will take a £3m a year hit on its Spanish business thanks to new tax laws. It is also facing difficulties in Germany and Greece.

The firm has come in for criticism for the bumper pay awarded to its senior executives, including outgoing boss David Yu, despite its decline in its value. The company did not name a successor to Yu.

Betfair, founded 10 years ago by one-time professional gambler Andrew Black and ex-JP Morgan trader Edward Wray, allows gamblers to either place a bet or offer odds to others, taking commission on their winnings. Last year, it matched more than 900m bets.