Talk of Betfair stock market move - Saturday 12th of March 2005

ONLINE betting exchange Betfair is believed to be mulling a stock market flotation that would land its co-founders more than ??100 million a piece.

The group is said to have appointed investment bankers to weigh up its strategic options, including a sale or an IPO. Other possibilities include a refinancing deal.

A flotation at ??700m would bring in more than ??100m each for former City trader Andrew Black and ex-investment banker Edward Wray, who set up the company in August 1999. A host of smaller investors are also tipped to cash in, earning cheques for several hundred thousand pounds.

Betfair appointed a Yahoo executive as a non-executive director last week - a sign thought to indicate the business is preparing for a flotation. The investment bank is said to be NM Rothschild.

A betting exchange cuts out the need for gamblers to go to a traditional bookmaker. It matches up punters gambling for and against the outcomes of a wide selection of sports and events, and takes a commission fee for the facility.

Betfair is thought to have a 90 per cent share of the UK betting exchange market and in its last financial year posted pre-tax profits of ??13.3m. The company last night refused to comment on market speculation.

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