IPO Intentions confirmed by Betfair (UPDATE)

No firm date yet for public listing, but 10 percent of the group will be offered

Persistent speculation that online gambling group Betfair is to seek a public listing on the London Stock Exchange (see previous InfoPowa reports) has been confirmed in a brief statement from the company.

The notification was included in a routine announcement of the company's audited results for the year ended 30 April 2010, in which Betfair advised that a separate statement would be made regarding its intention to list up to 10 percent of the group on the London Stock Exchange in an initial public offering.

The company unveiled pre-tax profits of GBP18 million in the year to the end of April.

SkyTV reported that the flotation would value the company at around GBP1.5 billion, which will be used to aid the betting site's expansion into new markets, both internationally and other areas that use similar technology.

Only a 10 percent share of the company will be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Ed Wray and Andrew Black founded the internet gambling firm 11 years ago, and the current ownership is split into four blocs between the founders, Japanese bank Softbank, venture capital firm Balderton Capital, and the company's 2 300 employees.

The company is being advised by American banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Betfair abandoned a previous attempt to float in 2005.

The company's results include the information that Betfair delivered a tenth successive year of double digit revenue growth, underpinned by its betting exchange operations.

Financial highlights for the year included:

* Overall revenue growth of 13 percent to GBP 340.9 million (2009 FY: GBP 301.2 million), comprising GBP 306 million from core Betfair activities and GBP 34.9 million from investments.

* Sports revenue grew by 12 percent to GBP 223.7 million (FY/09: GBP 199.2 million)

* During a year in which many other businesses have focused on cost cutting, Betfair made significant investments in order to secure future growth, including:

The start of a GBP 25 million technology investment programme over three years to deliver a more cost-efficient, robust and flexible exchange platform to support future international growth;

A marketing campaign to enhance Betfair's positioning in football ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup;

Further investment in LMAX ahead of the launch of its new exchange platform in the final calendar quarter of 2010; and

Investment in Betfair US operations to position Betfair group favourably in the event of any liberalisation of the US online betting and gaming market.

Core Betfair adjusted EBITDA of GBP 62.2 million (FY/09: GBP 74.8 million) was recorded, with adjusted EBITDA on other investments reflecting a loss of GBP 8.7 million (FY/09 loss GBP 4.5 million. This reslted in an adjusted EBITDA for the group as a whole to GBP 53.5 million (FY09: GBP 70.3 million).

As at 30 April 2010 the group cash position was GBP 150.9 million with no debt. In addition, Betfair held GBP 284 million of customer funds at the same date.

Operational highlights included:

* Core Betfair active customers up 26 percent to 823,000 (FY/09: 652,000), with registered customer base reaching 3 million in April 2010

* Continued growth in international revenue to 46 percent of Core Betfair net gaming revenue and more than half of Betfair Group revenue

* Rapid growth in mobile betting revenue driven by product innovation - Betfair was the first betting and gaming company to have an iPhone betting application in the Apple App Store.

* Official betting partnerships with Manchester United and FC Barcelona

The group’s current trading and outlook report showcases continued rapid growth in the first three months of 2010, with sports revenues increasing by 24 percent to GBP 63.5 million, underpinned by the 2010 FIFA World Cup which helped drive a 47 percent rise in the number of sports active customers.

Games and Poker revenue also grew, up 26 percent to GBP 16.7 million and 3 percent to GBP 6.1 million respectively. Total Core Betfair revenue rose by 22 percent to GBP 87.0 million, with the total number of active customers growing by 44 percent to 526,000 in the quarter.

US revenue from subsidiary TVG grew by 13 percent in US dollar terms, and LMAX revenue increased in the quarter from its existing white label spread betting product to GBP 1.6 million compared with GBP 600 000 previously.

The group reported that the LMAX financial exchange platform had secured FSA approval, and that Goldman Sachs had bought a 12.5 percent share.

The company had also achieved a satisfactory migration of its online poker operations to the Ongame network in July, and the integration of a web-based Playtech casino product in August

Management said that overall, Betfair has made a positive start to the year with a strong performance in sports and games and a steady performance in poker. The business is performing in line with the directors' expectations and they view the outlook for the current financial year with confidence.

Chief executive David Yu said: "Betfair has continued to grow despite a weak economy and a tough winter for UK horse racing, a testament to our customers' appreciation of the unique qualities of the Betting Exchange.

“This tenth year of success demonstrates the strength of Betfair's business and its underlying technology and has given us the confidence to invest in new opportunities, which will underpin long-term sustainable growth.

“The intention to list, which we are announcing separately today, is the natural next step in the evolution of Betfair."

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