Sportingbet Board Announce Changes at the Top
By James Mc
Sportingbet Plc (LSE: SBT), one of the world’s leading online sports betting and gaming groups, has announced management succession plans that will see Andrew McIver, Group Finance Director, appointed Group Chief Executive with Nigel Payne, the current Group Chief Executive becoming Executive Director, focusing on lobbying for industry regulation in the US and Europe. He will assist Andrew McIver and the Board in researching and executing business development opportunities. The changes will be in place from 17 October 2006, the date upon which Sportingbet will announce its results for the 12 months ending 31 July 2006.

In reaction to the announcement Andrew McIver professed his personal delight whilst pointing to a positive and pioneering future for the company.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead one of the largest and most exciting companies in this industry, and I really relish the challenge this new role will provide me,” he said. “Over the next few years, I believe that the industry will increasingly emphasise the importance of customer experience. Whether through website personalisation, innovative and focused product development, targeted marketing or enhanced customer service, the consumer’s experience will be an important differentiator of businesses in the sector. My aim is to ensure that Sportingbet continues to lead the way in this area.”

McIver takes over from the current Chief Executive Nigel Payne only five years after replacing him in his current role as Group Finance Director. In that time, McIver and Payne have worked closely together to develop a long term business strategy, focusing on brand development through targeted acquisitions and ‘organic growth’.

'Although I am relinquishing the role of Group Chief Executive, I am delighted to continue as an Executive Director and help Sportingbet onto even better things,” said new Executive Director Nigel Payne. “Sportingbet has a real depth of management talent that means I can now step down from the day to day responsibilities and concentrate on certain crucial areas such as regulatory development and business expansion. I am extremely proud to have led one of the most successful companies in the industry during its formative years, and that it has now become a significantly profitable international group.”

The announcements are Sportingbet’s succession plans to create an expanded management team to provide the necessary resource to accommodate its now global status, and to ensure a continued growth for a company that has rapidly emerged to prominence during the past five years.

In a statement, company Chairman Peter Dicks acknowledged the performance of his charges. “Nigel has done a tremendous job over the last five years in turning a small player in an immature market into a global operator of considerable scale. We are delighted that Nigel has agreed to stay with Sportingbet to take on a role that is so important to our long term success,” he said. “Andrew McIver has been the number two at Sportingbet for nearly five years and was the unanimous choice of the Board to succeed Nigel. We are confident that his industry experience and familiarity with the Sportingbet culture will ensure continuity and drive the Group onto even greater success in the future.”

Sportingbet has also released its third quarter and cumulative results for the nine months ended 30 April 2006.

Financial Highlights Three Months Ended 30 April 2006

·Gross margin up 58% to £84.4m (2005: £53.4m)

·Operating profit* up 43% to £28.8m (2005: £20.2m)

·Profit before tax up 55% to £21.2m (2005: £13.7m)

·Basic earnings per share* of 6.6p (2005: 5.5p)

·Diluted earnings per share* of 6.4p (2005: 4.2p)

·Cash generation from operating activities of £29.5m (2005: £18.7m)

(* Stated pre goodwill and share option charges)

Business Highlights Three Months Ended 30 April 2006

·New registered customers up 86% to 0.5m (2005: 0.3m)

·New real money customers up 58% to 170,580 (2005: 108,136)

·New real money customers acquired at an average cost of $142 (12 months 2005: $137)

·Number of sports and gaming bets up 39% to 149.3m (2005: 107.5m)

Average daily Paradise Poker rake up 90% to $575,339 (2005: $302,555)

Acquisition of 50% interest in Puntobet S.R.L., a licensed Italian online sports bookmaker, for $2.9m in cash

Further solid development of shared purse technology:

22,551 (16.9%) of US active sports customers played poker during the quarter, generating an average of $54,324 rake per day throughout the quarter

22,685 (13.8%) of US active poker players bet on sports / casino during the quarter, generating $2.6m of margin

Management Succession Plan Summary

·Current Group Finance Director, Andrew McIver, to be appointed CEO from 17 October 2006

·Nigel Payne to remain an Executive Director, responsible for regulation and business development

·Process for appointing new Group Finance Director underway

 
 
 
 
 
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