Sky Bet gears up for expansion under new owner

Richard Flint, MD of Sky Bet

Richard Flint, MD of Sky Bet

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​Online betting business Sky Bet​ is gearing up for expansion following its sale by Sky to private equity firm ​CVC Capital Partners in a deal that values the betting firm at £800m.

Leeds-based Sky Bet, which also runs gaming websites such as Sky Vegas and the odds comparison site Oddschecker, will remain in the city with all 500 plus staff moving to the new group, including managing director Richard Flint.

Mr Flint said the acquisition will back Sky Bet’s growth in the UK and abroad.

“We’ve reached the scale now where it makes sense for us to operate as an independent business,” he said.

“We are really excited about the deal. It gives us the breadth and relationship with Sky, but we won’t be competing for resources with Sky.”

​Sky will retain a 20​ per cent​ stake in the betting and gaming business and has entered into a long-term brand licence agreement with Sky Bet.

The group will be 80 per cent owned by funds advised by​​ CVC once the deal completes early next year. The deal is subject to regulatory approval, but this is not seen as an obstacle.

Sky, which will receive an initial £600​m on completion of the deal, said the disposal will enable it to focus on the “significant opportunity” for growth in pay TV across the five European markets in which it operates.

​It could also receive an extra £120m under the terms of the deal.

Mr Flint will run the new business, aided by chief financial officer Ian Proctor and chief technical office Andy Burton.

“We are very proud of our base in Leeds,” said Mr Flint.

“Leeds offers very strong recruitment of technical staff and has become an internet hub. People are really excited about the news. We’ve got a very strong team.

​“When we moved across from Harrogate to Leeds in 2010 we were confident that this city was the perfect place to develop our business.

“We’re even more certain that with the wealth of technology talent and knowledge in the Yorkshire area, as well as the historical links to sport, this is the perfect place to start the next chapter in the Sky Betting and Gaming success story.”

Mr Flint will take over the role of chief executive when the deal goes through next year.

The aim is to expand the sports betting business in the UK, particularly in football mobile betting. The next target is Italy which will start up over the next 12 months.

“European expansion is definitely on our minds,” said Mr Flint.

“We’d also look at Germany. Sky has a presence there.”

Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “In the last 10 years, we have successfully grown Sky Bet from a start-up to one of the leading online betting and gaming companies in the UK.”

CVC has experience in the betting and gaming sector through previous investments in companies such as William Hill and IG Group.

In the year to June, the business generated net revenues of £182​m and profits before tax of £50​m.

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