(Adds further comment from CEO, shares)
By Keith Weir
LONDON, June 11 Online gambling exchange Betfair
said it wanted England to do well at the World Cup and
boost its betting revenue after its annual profit beat forecasts
Betfair, which operates an exchange that allows gamblers to
bet against each other, has been slimming down its operations
and cutting costs under Chief Executive Breon Corcoran, seeking
to focus on fewer markets where returns are more secure.
"The emphasis on sustainable revenues and our product and
marketing investments are paying off, resulting in record
revenues and profits," Corcoran said in a statement.
Operating profit rose 24 percent to 91 million pounds
($152.80 million) in the year to April 30, helped by more than
30 million pounds of cost savings, and coming in above the
company's previous guidance.
The going will get tougher for gambling companies from
December when the British government closes a loophole that had
allowed them to reduce their tax bill by basing their operations
offshore in places such as Gibraltar.
Betfair estimated that tax changes in Britain, Ireland and
Italy would have cost it around 36 million pounds last year.
Like rival betting companies, Betfair is looking to the
soccer World Cup which kicks off on Thursday to lift trading and
help it to win new customers ahead of the tax changes in
Corcoran, an Irishman, said Betfair would be cheering on
England to keep its large English customer base engaged.
"If England have a couple of losses early on, I think people
will lose interest quickly," he said. England face tough games
against Italy and Uruguay in their opening group.
Betfair shares were 0.5 percent higher at 1,027 pence by
0737 GMT, paring initial gains. The shares trade on a
price-earnings multiple of around 22, making them expensive
compared with more traditional bookmakers such as William Hill
, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes.
They have risen since the company rejected a 950p per share
offer from private equity firm CVC in May 2013.
Corcoran was chief operating officer at Paddy Power before
joining Betfair in 2012. He played down speculation that he
could succeed Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy who is
stepping down next year.
"I'm very happy here and very busy here," he said.
"I don't think my friends in Dublin would have me back," he
($1 = 0.5956 British Pounds)
(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Sarah Young and Louise