Betfair set for flotation (update)

Prospectus values company around GBP1.48 billion

Confirmation of rumours that have been circulating for months came this week with the release of a prospectus on Betfair's flotation of 10 percent of its stock on the London exchange.

The company has set a price range per share of GBP11 to GBP14, valuing the group at almost GBP1.50 billion. The wide price range reflects mixed views that have been expressed on the company's prospects for growth in countries with strict regulations on gambling, such as the U.S., and for its new financial-trading platform, LMAX.

Betfair's majority holders, which include founders Andrew Black and Edward Wray and Japanese telecommunication company SoftBank Corp., are offering at least 10 percent of the company's stock.

The prospectus reveals that Betfair has some 3 million registered users, and that revenue in the year to April 30 was up 13 percent at GBP340.9 million.

Betfair has US horse racing interests in TVG, which is licensed in 17 states, and plans to use this as a bridgehead into the lucrative US market in the event of any relaxation in tough online gambling laws either at federal or state level.

The company advises that the final IPO price will be set October 22 and the stock will start trading conditionally on that day, going to full unconditional trading just under a week later. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are advising the company.

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