Gone Fishin’, Flutter Casts New CEO in Bid to Satiate Market Sharks

Flutter, the world’s largest listed gambling group, has dumped its UK and Ireland CEO Conor Grant and brought aboard a new captain to Paddy Power-up the under-performing ship.

After more than 20-years in the online gambling sector, Grant, who crossed to FTSE100-listed Flutter in July 2020, when the Irish bookmaker merged with The Stars Group, has decided, in time-honoured euphemism, to “take a planned career break and spend more time with his family”.

He is being replaced by Ian Brown, a former CEO of the Trips Division of Booking.com and a Senior Partner of Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy firm.

With Flutter’s growth flat-lining in its core UK market–and its shares down some 37 per cent for the year, against a broader market slide of 4.8 per cent–it remains to be seen whether the change of helmsmen will prevent the sharks taking even bigger bites out of the gambling whale.

Only time, perhaps short time, will tell if Brown, who formally takes over in September, has the vim and charisma of his more famous namesake Ian Brown, of The Stone Roses, to take Flutter back to the top of the gambling charts.

Brown will assume responsibility for the Paddy Power, Sky Betting and Gaming, Betfair and Tombola brands in the UK and Ireland.

“I would like to thank Conor for his significant contribution to [the business],” said Peter Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of Flutter Entertainment plc.

“His work on the strategic vision and direction of our UK and Ireland business has set us in great stead for the future, and his passion and determination to put our customers’ safety at the heart of what we do has anchored our industry-leading Play Well strategy.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Conor and will personally miss his sound commercial judgement and keen eye for business opportunities. I’m sorry to see him leave but wish him well for the future.”

Under separate notice, Flutter recently announced that it plans to close 13 of its 270 Paddy Power bookies in Eire.

A crackdown on high-spending gamblers and stricter betting laws across many of its top markets, notably Holland and Germany, has hit profits.

In anticipation of Britain’s long-awaited White Paper gaming review and oncoming tighter legislation in the UK, Flutter has also initiated a tranche of its own pre-emptive safer gambling measures — such as banning credit card deposits, and imposing mandatory deposit limits for all customers under 25-years-old. These moves have undoubtedly impacted revenues.

Concurrently, in the United States, the Omni-channel has spent some US$1 billion (£839m/€982m) on promotion to build its FanDuel sportsbook into the market leader.

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