| LONDON, March 6
LONDON, March 6 Online gambling exchange Betfair
said on Thursday it was on course to reach the top end
of its profit guidance as investments in Italy and New Jersey
prove less expensive than feared.
Betfair also announced it had signed a deal with British
commercial TV company ITV to buy key advertising slots
during World Cup and Champions League soccer games, raising the
profile of the company.
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.
Under Corcoran, Betfair has also developed its more
conventional "sportsbook" betting, where the bookmaker sets the
odds. That broadens its appeal to mainstream gamblers but brings
it into more direct competition with William Hill and
Corcoran said the integration of the exchange and sportsbook
betting would allow it to offer improved odds on some bets, an
initiative it is marketing under the "Price Rush" name.
Earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) rose 28 percent to 20.2 million pounds ($33.8 million)
in the three months to the end of January, Betfair said.
"We now expect EBITDA for the full year to be towards the
upper end of the previously guided range of between 82 million
and 87 million pounds," the company said. Its financial year
runs until the end of April.
The cost of investment in expansion in Italy and New Jersey
was expected to be at the lower end of a forecast of 5 to 10
The positive tone boosted shares by 3.5 percent to 1,172
pence by 0815 GMT.
Betfair had been forced to defend its strategy after
rejecting a 1 billion pound takeover by private equity firm CVC
Capital Partners last May.
The shares are now trading well above the 950p offer price
from CVC that the company rejected. However, the price is
still a long way short of the 13 pound level at which they
floated in October 2010.
($1 = 0.5977 British pounds)
(Editing by David Holmes)