Sunday June 26, 2011 : NEW BOSS FOR BETFAIR?
Declining share price and executive departures suggest changes are afoot
Unconfirmed speculation in the British business press over the weekend is that online gambling group Betfair may be hunting for a replacement chief executive to replace David Yu, who has apparently let it be known that he wishes to return to the United States.
The declining popularity of Betfair shares reached a new low this week amid rumours that the company has begun contacting headhunting firms in a bid to find a new chief executive.
Reports of a string of middle management executive departures have reportedly unsettled the market, and the past eight months have been turbulent to say the least, with the group's share price declining some 43 percent.
Betfair has thus far refused to comment on what it describes as speculation, but clarification could come as soon as next week, when the company presents its latest full year results to investors.
The recent appointment as group operations director of former William Hill exec Ian Chuter is seen by HR specialists in London as a smart move that could address some of the perceived weaknesses in Betfair operations, but his talents need to be complemented by a City-savvy chief executive, according to some experts.
Earlier this year, management departures included Mathias Entenmann, chief product and services officer; Charlie Palmer, head of mobile; Robin Osmond, chief executive of financial betting exchange LMAX; Matt Carter, director of architecture, research and prototyping; and Lee Cowles, director of UK sports and gaming.
Since then the company has made several high-powered hires as replacements, but the exodus appeared to prompt the company to run an internal opinion survey, in which employees reportedly told top management that they thought the company lacked direction.
Betfair shares sank as low as 715.79p in trading on Friday, a new low, but recovered later in the day to close up 8p at 743p. The shares listed in its IPO at GBP13.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley forecast a 9 percent rise in full-year revenues to GBP373 million when the results are presented next week, and a 15 percent rise in profit before tax to GBP31 million. Numis Securities have a less optimistic prediction of a 7 percent rise to GBP325 million.