Friday 24 May 2019

Paddy Power bets on online growth in Ireland

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Paddy Power Betfair is to concentrate its growth in Ireland on its online business.

CEO Peter Jackson said the company would not be undertaking a "massive expansion" of its retail footprint here, "but if there are opportunities to grow we will take those".

"I think we get much better returns from growing our online business, which is where you have seen the focus of growth for the past few years," he said following the group's AGM yesterday.

The gambling giant also wants to focus expansion on its core markets of the UK, Ireland and Australia.

"It is also important that we take advantage of the opportunities that Betfair has in international markets so we continue to grow that business." The third part of the group's strategy is to ensure it has "podium positions" in regulated markets, while the fourth is to succeed in the US, Mr Jackson told reporters.

When considering mergers and acquisitions (M&A), this would be in respect of the third part of its strategy, Mr Jackson, who was taking part in his second AGM since taking over from Breon Corcoran in January last year, said.

"Our preference would be to grow organically in these markets if we can, but if we find [M&A] opportunities that clear our hurdles from a regulatory perspective we want to look at those very seriously."

He added that between Ireland and Georgia in Eastern Europe there were a lot of regulated markets the group does not have "podium positions" in.

The group did not rule out going above its medium term debt to 2.0 times earnings ratio to fund potential deals.

Shareholders backed the company's plans to change its corporate name to Flutter Entertainment by a margin of 99.76pc. Paddy Power Betfair said it was important the corporate name reflects "the group's diverse nature of the global brands that we have".

"With this change of corporate name this isn't a signal of any significant change to our strategy," Mr Jackson said.

Elsewhere, and since it merged its US business with fantasy sports company FanDuel last year the group has launched sports betting in New Jersey, where it is the market leader with just over 50pc of market share, chairman Gary McGann told shareholders.

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