The Business on Patrick Kennedy, Chief executive, Paddy Power

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The Independent Online

Ah, the real Paddy?

Actually, not. The name is purely a coincidence. Paddy Power was formed from a merger of three Irish bookmakers in 1988, but Mr Kennedy didn't join the business until 2005.

So how's it going?

Very well indeed thank you. Paddy Power said yesterday that 2010 was its best-ever year – profits were buoyed by an international expansion, particularly in the UK, as well as the World Cup.

What's Mr Kennedy's secret?

Well, the aggressive marketing helps. Paddy Power has a knack of making headlines by offering eye-catching bets – it put a stall outside the Vatican, for example, offering odds on the candidates when the bishops were deciding who should be Pope. It also offered odds on Barack Obama not completing his Presidency in the US, which was widely seen as offering punters the chance to gamble on whether he would be assassinated.

Is he a marketing man then?

No, he's an accountant – he started out at the management consultancy business McKinsey and then became finance director at Greencore, the Irish food manufacturer. He moved to Paddy Power, at the tender age of 35, six years ago.

Is bookmaking in the blood?

No, but running businesses is. Mr Kennedy's father, David Kennedy used to be the chief executive of Ireland's Aer Lingus.

And does he like a bet himself?

Indeed – on taking the job, he said it would make a change to be taking money off Paddy Power, rather than vice versa. He'll bet on most sports, he says, though rugby union is his big love – he coaches his kids' teams at the weekend.

So, what's next?

More expansion and, no doubt, more novelty bets. Paddy Power recently unveiled a move into France, it is eyeing the Tote in the UK, which the Government is in the process of selling off, and it also wonders about doing more online in the US, legal issues permitting.