Spotlight On... Stephen Morana, interim chief executive, Betfair
Possibly the City's only personable finance director. The unflappable numbers man at online gambling exchange Betfair has just been given the top job, taking over from the departing chief executive David Yu until Paddy Power's operations man, Breon Corcoran, joins the company in August.
Finance director? Personable?
So say those in the City who've met him. During the nine years he's worked at Betfair – he joined from Sapient, the Nasdaq-listed technology consultancy where he was head of UK finance – Mr Morana has become known as the easygoing one at the top of the company. He shrugs off criticism without getting all defensive, but is still thought of as a bona fide brainbox. In fact, Mr Morana is so well regarded by Betfair's founders, Ed Wray and Andrew Black, that they named a thoroughbred horse after him. Said nag, Morana, went on to win at Ascot.
He might only be in the top job for eight months – although word on the street is that he was offered the chief executive role but turned it down to bolster his experience as FD – but Mr Morana still has plenty to do to convince the City that Betfair is a growth story. The company has impressed the whole industry by revolutionising the sports-betting industry. Now it needs to prove that it can do the same in another sector with new venture LMAX, a financial-betting exchange. But established rival IG Index won't be giving up its ground easily.
And then there's the small matter of the shares...
Yup. Betfair floated a year ago at 1,300p. Today it's still well below 800p. But Mr Morana reckons that things are looking up. He said yesterday: "I've been here nine years and I'm more positive about the business than I have been for a long time." He'll be hoping that remains true over the next eight months.
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