The business on...Ian Bull, Chief financial officer, Ladbrokes


A new man in the back office?


That's right. Mr Bull was appointed to the top finance job at Ladbrokes yesterday – he succeeds Brian Wallace, who announced he would step down from the bookmaker earlier this year.

And is he any good?

The analysts seem to think so: the appointment is certainly being seen as a feather in the cap of Richard Glynn, the Ladbrokes chief executive, who has been overhauling his senior management team since joining last year. Mr Bull is on the shortlist for finance director of the year in one set of industry awards and is highly regarded.

And there's a takeover for him to handle straight away?

Actually, no. Ladbrokes announced yesterday that it was breaking off negotiations that might have seen it buy 888 Holdings, the online bookmaker. The two sides have been in talks for months, but just couldn't agree on a price (particularly as Ladbrokes reduced its offer after conducting due diligence on 888).

So why is Mr Bull so widely respected?

He's credited with having put Greene King on a firm financial footing since joining the board of the brewer in 2006. Aged 49, he's also worked for the retail arm of BT, and was a vice-president at Disney.

The leaving do should be fun

Assuming you like Greene King ales – just don't ask for a lager, let alone wine or a short. Still, there's a bit of time to plan the bash. Mr Bull won't be joining Ladbrokes until the beginning of July.

Will there be much to worry about in his new post?

Bookmaking is an unpredictable business. However well you plan, a string of the wrong results can cause you problems. Still, Ladbrokes is doing well for now, reporting an increase in profits yesterday, with most of its operations performing strongly. It lost out on the Cheltenham Festival this year, where Junior, the winner of the Kim Muir chase, cost it £1m alone, but has benefited from some unlikely football scores and the Grand National.

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