UPDATE 1-Betfair brings in new CFO ahead of cost cutting drive

Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:10am EST

LONDON Nov 28 (Reuters) - Betfair named American Alexander Gersh as its chief financial officer on Wednesday, with the online gambling exchange expected to focus on cutting its cost base in the coming months.

Gersh, who has been CFO at technology company NDS for seven years, is the first major appointment by Betfair Chief Executive Breon Corcoran since he joined the company in August.

Gersh starts work next week and replaces Stephen Morana as Betfair CFO. Morana served as interim CEO before Corcoran arrived and had already said he planned to leave the company.

Launched 12 years ago, Betfair operates an exchange that allows gamblers to bet against each other rather than having a bookmaker set the odds.

Corcoran, previously chief operating officer at Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, will have the chance to set out his strategy for Betfair when the company publishes its interim results on December 13.

Betfair has already quietly trimmed the number of languages it offers on its website, cutting around 50 people from a workforce of more than 2,000.

It has also withdrawn its sports betting exchange in Germany because of the tax rate and said this week that it was pulling out of the Greek market because of regulatory uncertainty.

"Earnings come down, quality of income rises," Investec analyst James Hollins said in a research note this week.

"This is the scenario being played out at Betfair (German and Greek withdrawals) and we think that the thrust of the new CEO's reworked strategy to be presented on 13 December is effectively being leaked: exit grey markets and cut costs accordingly," he added, retaining a "Sell" recommendation on the stock.

Betfair shares traded 0.8 percent lower at 745.5p by 0845 GMT on Wednesday. They floated at 1300p when the company joined the stock market two years ago.

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