Tuesday 25 October 2016

Paddy Power's head of retail leaves ahead of merger

Nick Webb and Sarah McCabe

Published 25/10/2015 | 02:30

Breon Corcoran will lead Paddy Power Betfair
Breon Corcoran will lead Paddy Power Betfair

Paddy Power's managing director of retail for Ireland and the UK, Christian Woolfenden, has left the bookmakers.

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Woolfenden has been replaced on an interim basis by Dan Taylor, head of retail for the UK.

Woolfenden has left in search of a role that allows him to work in the UK full time. He is from Preston in England. He joined Paddy Power in 2012 as chief marketing officer. He was previously with Bacardi, where he was global brand director for Bacardi.

The last major exit at Paddy Power was of chairman Nigel Northridge, whose term expired this summer. He was replaced by Smurfit Kappa's Gary McGann.

A company spokesperson said Woolfenden's exit was not related to merger talks between Paddy Power and Betfair, since Betfair does not have a retail operation and there will be no synergies on that side.

Last week the proposed merger was formally notified to the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

The planned €7.5bn deal - initially announced in August - has now entered a phase one probe at the CCPC. The deadline for any parties wishing to make a submission in relation to the proposed merger is November 5.

The preliminary investigation typically only takes a few weeks, but depending on any concerns or issues the CCPC may have, it can become a more in-depth probe.

Betfair and Paddy Power have previously indicated that they hope the merger will be sealed by January.

The newly-merged entity, which will be known as Paddy Power Betfair, will be headquartered in Dublin and will join the FTSE-100.

Paddy Power is currently headed by Andy McCue. He will become chief operating officer of the combined group. Betfair chief executive Breon Corcoran will lead the new company while new chairman Gary McGann will also be chairman of the enlarged group.

The combined annual revenues of Paddy Power and Betfair are about €1.7bn, with 80pc of that generated by online channels.

Last month, Davy Stockbrokers suggested that shares in Paddy Power were undervalued by about 30pc based on synergies it can achieve under the Betfair merger. Analysts at Davy indicated the shares could hit €129 apiece. The analysts also believe that shares in Betfair could gain 30pc, and tipped the merged entity to be one of the best growth stocks in Europe.

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