Paddy Power co-founder Stewart Kenny steps down from board
Bookmaker sowed seeds for €10 billion gambling giant
Stewart Kenny chaired the Paddy Power group between 2002 and 2003 and then remained on its board as a non-executive. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Paddy Power Betfair announced on Wednesday that Mr Kenny is stepping down as a non-executive director of its board after serving a total of 28 years with the company.
Mr Kenny is one of the best-known figures in Irish business and is one of those who in the late 1980s helped found the Irish bookmaker chain that is now one half of Paddy Power Betfair, a global betting business worth about €10 billion.
Early in his career he moved to London and managed a Ladbrokes shop before returning home, where he worked for a number of other bookies before opening under his own name.
He formed a partnership, Kenny O’Reilly, which was sold to UK player Corals for IR£3 million in 1986. Three days after the deal, the partnership set up another bookmakers.
In 1988, that partnership merged with the Richard Power Group and Corcoran’s to form Paddy Power. The idea was to create a business with the scale to withstand the British players that by then had more than 20 per cent of the Irish market.
Mr Kenny was chief executive, and he stayed in the role until 2002, overseeing the company’s launch on the Irish Stock Exchange in 2001 and the beginning of its transformation from bookie shop chain to multifaceted betting group.
When the business began in 1988, it had about 8 per cent of the Irish market; by the time he ended his term as its chief executive it was about four times that figure.
He chaired the group between 2002 and 2003 and has remained on its board as a non-executive since then.
Paying tribute to him on Wednesday, Paddy Power Betfair chairman Gary McGann noted that Mr Kenny had 40 years’ experience in bookmaking.
“He was instrumental in creating a highly successful international business from a small domestically focused retail operation at inception,” Mr McGann said.
“He played a hugely supportive role in the merger of Paddy Power with Betfair.”