Betfair romps home with hike in profits

Steve Dinneen
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BETFAIR responded in the best possible way to the news its chief executive is to step down, racing ahead of analyst forecasts to post record full-year results.

The online gaming firm posted pre-tax profits of £26.6m, an increase of almost 50 per cent on the previous year. Revenue grew by eight per cent to £368.6m.

Outgoing chief executive David Yu, who said on Monday he will not renew his contract, said: “Revenue growth during 2011 could have been stronger but we have delivered a significant improvement in margin resulting in profitability for the year above expectations.”

Yu, who sent Betfair shares to a record low of 715p on Friday as speculation of his departure mounted, has been in charge of the firm for six years, after joining a decade ago.

He has overseen a difficult period for Betfair since its stock market flotation last October, with the firm slipping in value by 40 per cent since its flotation for £13 a share.

It has been dogged by regulatory concerns in core markets including Germany and Italy, where it has had its licence suspended. However, it said yesterday it will pay a maiden dividend of 5.9p a share and intends to repurchase up to £50m worth of shares.

The market reacted cautiously to the results, with Betfair stock closing flat at 771.5p. It is now worth in the region of £800m.