Deals

Online betting venue Betfair to IPO punters: We’re worth $2.4B

The world’s largest online betting exchange, Betfair Group, today set a price range for its upcoming initial public offering and listing on the London Stock Exchange that would value the company at as much as $2.4 billion.

The British company, which allows bettors to skip the age-old process of going through a bookie to make bets or give odds on everything from soccer to horseracing online, said it would sell a stake to public investors at £11 to £14, or $17.50 to $22.30, a share.

Betfair also owns a nascent financial exchange, LMAX, whose early successes—or failures—may eventually weigh on any final IPO price.

Betfair was founded a decade ago by JP Morgan trader Edward Wray, Internet entrepreneur Josh Hannah and well-known professional gambler Andrew Black. Hannah left the company in 2004 and is now a venture capitalist at Matrix Partners in Silicon Valley. Betfair has since seen revenues climb a steady 10 percent year-over-year, with the Wray and Black now owning 23 percent of the company.

As of April 30, Betfair had seen a 13 percent gain in 2010 and listed its revenue at $543 billion. The company earns a 2 to 5 percent commission on any bets placed through the site.

As part of the new IPO, Black and Wray have said they will sell at least 10 percent of Betfair, while selling an undisclosed amount of existing shares.

Betfair said in a statement it would not issue any new shares in the public offering, although a group of 600 smaller investors, who hold a quarter of the company’s existing shares, will have the option to sell when the firm lists on the LSE.

The company’s 14 largest shareholders (including Wray and Black) currently hold about 75 percent of Betfair’s stock, with its biggest investor being Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Corp. Betfair said that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs will act as bookrunners and joint sponsors for the IPO, while Numis and Barclays Capital will help solicit investors as co-managers.