Betfair tells finance chief to go ahead of flotation - Friday 12th of August 2005

Betfair, the betting exchange, has ousted its chief financial officer ahead of a potential £700m-£800m stock market flotation.

Owen ODonnell, 38, who joined the company two years ago from media group Pearson and is currently on paternity leave, has been asked to make way for a more heavyweight finance director. He will leave on August 31 with an undisclosed pay-off.

Betfair does not have a replacement lined up but has appointed headhunters to find a finance director with experience of initial public offerings or quoted companies.

This month, Betfair appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as advisers to the company, which was generally taken as confirmation of its intention to float. While other options are also being considered, a float next year is favourite, particularly in light of the successful listing of PartyGaming, the online poker business.

Stephen Hill, Betfairs chief executive, would only say: "Owen has made a significant contribution to Betfairs development during the past two years. In particular we owe our strong controls environment and efficient reporting system to his tenure."

In a statement, Mr ODonnell said he was "proud about the contribution I have made" to Betfair becoming "a leading internet business".

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