Profits race ahead at bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair

Paddy Power Betfair has reported rising sales and earnings in the first half but admitted it had been hit by the lack of a major football tournament and customer-friendly sports results.

Paddy Power Betfair saw its core earnings rise by about a fifth. Picture: Contributed

The bookmaker, which revealed earlier this week that chief executive Breon Corcoran is to step down after 16 years, reported 9 per cent year-on-year revenue growth to £827 million in the six months to 30 June.

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Core earnings rose by about a fifth to £220m but the firm said that, despite strong first-quarter growth helped by favourable Cheltenham results, the following period suffered from “the absence of a major football tournament and adverse sports results”.

Last year, bookmakers were boosted by the European Championships and in particular by England’s exit at the hands of minnows Iceland.

Corcoran, who is to be replaced by Worldpay UK boss Peter Jackson, said: “We continue to make substantial investments to position Paddy Power Betfair as a structural winner in a dynamic and highly competitive market.

“The focus of this investment is to use technology to improve efficiency and minimise the cost of serving our customers and to further enhance our customer proposition.”

Paddy Power Betfair confirmed that current trading was in line with expectations, but analysts at Numis sounded a note of caution.

They said: “Whilst we expect online gaming growth to improve, competition remains high and we continue to be mindful of external regulatory headwinds facing the business.”

Worldpay has agreed a £9.3 billion merger deal with US rival Vantiv in a tie-up that will create a global payments processing giant with a combined value of £22.2bn, writes Holly Williams.

The deal, which comes after a second extension to the talk deadlines, will see Vantiv pay 397p a share for Worldpay, or £8bn, plus £1.3bn to cover debts.

The combined group will be called Worldpay and will be led by Vantiv’s Charles Drucker as executive chairman and co-chief executive, with Worldpay’s current boss Philip Jansen as co-chief executive.

Drucker said: “This is a powerful combination that is strategically compelling for both companies. It joins two highly complementary businesses, and will allow us to achieve even more together than either organisation could accomplish on its own.”

Worldpay was owned by Royal Bank of Scotland until the lender sold off its remaining stake to private equity firms Advent International and Bain Capital in 2013.