BETFAIR, the UK gambling firm headed by former Paddy Power executive Breon Corcoran, is being circled by private equity group CVC as it considers making an offer for the firm.
Betfair confirmed that CVC was considering making an offer for the company, with its shares soaring 11pc on the back of the news, valuing it at just under £800m (€936m).
"CVC keeps a wide range of opportunities under regular review, and confirms that it has had preliminary discussions with Richard Koch, Antony Ball and partners regarding options in respect of Betfair, which could include an offer for Betfair by funds advised by CVC together with Richard Koch, Antony Ball and partners," said CVC in a statement.
Mr Koch owns a 6.5pc stake in Betfair while Mr Ball is a non-executive director at investment group Brait, which is based in Luxembourg.
Mr Corcoran, a former chief operating officer at Paddy Power, joined Betfair as its chief executive in August last year. His shares in Paddy Power were worth millions of euro as he defected.
"I've started to look under the hood and there's much to like," Mr Corcoran said last year as he presided over his first set of results at Betfair. "However, there is also much work to be done," he added.
"With our new team now in place and the announcement of a more focused strategy in December, I believe Betfair is currently going through one of the most exciting phases in its development," said Betfair chairman Gerald Corbett.
Betfair has been criticised by some analysts, who say it has been struggling to grow profitably outside the UK. Ladbrokes' purchase of Betdaq in January also poses a threat.
Separately, Paddy Power released its annual report yesterday. It shows that Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy received total remuneration of €1.44m last year, lower than the €1.57m he received in 2012. His remuneration included a basic salary of €746,000 and a €462,000 bonus as well as €239,000 in benefits.
Paddy Power said it had approved a 2pc increase in Mr Kennedy's basic salary, effective from last month.