Paddy Power's online profits of utmost importance

CEO forecasts expanded Internet gambling and good growth in Australia

The growing importance of Paddy Power group's online gambling operations was emphasised by CEO Patrick Kennedy in an interview with Bloombergs business news this week.

Kennedy was bullish on the group's prospects for 2010, where he expected faster growth in the Australian operations of the group, and said that earnings from online gambling activities could rise to more than 80 percent of profit “in the not too distant future” from two-thirds at the latest results.

Kennedy revealed that Paddy Power is building up its Internet unit and increasing its overseas presence as the recession in its home market cuts betting shop wagers.

In July, the bookmaker bought a 51 percent stake in Sportsbet Pty Ltd. to expand into Australia. Sales momentum there “remains very strong,” the CEO said, adding the company is now able to secure U.K. stores on better terms as retailers exit the high street.

“I think 2010 will be a good year for Paddy Power,” said Kennedy (40). "When I look at 2010 and beyond I think we will continue to grow our share in all of our markets.”

In the two months since the Sportsbet acquisition, the Australian business increased customer numbers by about 80 percent from a year earlier, Kennedy said. That represented an acceleration from 70 percent growth in the nine months through March.

Paddy Power may move into France once the market opens up, Kennedy said. That could either be done through its own brand or through a joint venture with a French company that would use Paddy Power’s technology.

“Large French companies who would have well-known brands and would know their way round the French market would be the sort of companies we would be looking at,” the CEO said. “We can provide them with the backend and they do the front end.”

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