Online betting firm???s founder scoops a 6.5m jackpot - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

MARK BLANDFORD, executive director and founder of the online betting firm Sportingbet, has cut his holding by 17%.

He sold 2.5m shares at 260p to raise ??6.5m and to leave him holding about 12m shares, around 4% of the company.

Blandford, who launched Sportingbet in 1998 and floated it on the AIM market in 2001, said he disposed of the shares to spread the risk of where his personal wealth was invested.

The sale is the latest in a series of hefty disposals made by Blandford since the company listed. This time last year he sold 2.2m shares at 76p, while in 2003 he made around ??2.5m from selling 8m shares.His only other big deal was buying 50,000 shares at 92p last August.

Sportingbet???s shares have increased in value dramatically in the past six months, spurred by the acquisition of Paradise Poker. They hit 349p in March as the online poker craze took off, but have fallen back sharply since.

Sportingbet more than doubled first-half pre-tax profit to ??18.3m in the six months to January, and its sales were up 30% to ??825m. oTWO directors of Kingspan, an Irish plasterboard maker, have cut their holdings.

Jim Paul, managing director of Kingspan???s building components and floors businesses, raised ???1.4m (??960,000) after disposing of all of his and his wife???s 160,000 shares in the group.

Dermot Mulvihill, the finance director, has also reduced his stake, making ???94,000 on the sale of 10,000 shares, leaving him with just over 1m.

Last month???s results from the group proved a hit with investors after Kingspan, which is listed in London, reported a 34% increase in pre-tax profit to ???88m, while turnover rose 22% to ???958m.

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