Betfair finance chief resigns as Games hit sales

ONLINE bookie Betfair yesterday announced its chief financial officer had quit the company, as it said that interest in the Olympics had led to a slow start to the football season.

Stephen Morana, who stepped in as interim chief executive of the firm in January until Breon Corcoran was poached from Paddy Power last month, said he will leave after ten years at the firm to pursue other interests. Corcoran’s appointment was confirmed today, and Morana said the new boss would usher in “a new era”.

Betfair said revenues in the three months to August were better than expected, but with sluggish betting during the first weeks of the football season, year-to-date revenues were in line with expectations.

Shares dipped on the announcement as analysts warned that Betfair faced several hurdles. James Ainley of Citigroup said that while the bookmaker’s sports performance was “very strong”, Betfair was struggling in its poker and gaming operations, leaving it more reliant on sports than its competitors.

Shareholders also staged a revolt at the company’s annual meeting over political donations, with 29.5 per cent of votes opposed to Betfair’s proposals for lobbying of up to £50,000 per donation. The exchange betting system that Betfair operates on has faced regulatory hurdles in the US and in mainland Europe.

Betfair’s quarterly sales were up 13 per cent year-on-year to £91.6m