Paddy Power owner Flutter defends executive pay at annual meeting

Betting company raises chief executive’s pay by 26% to €1.4m

Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment defended executive pay rises at its annual general meeting on Thursday.

The Irish betting giant increased chief executive Peter Jackson’s basic pay by 26 per cent to £1.17 million (€1.4 million) last month and hiked chief financial officer Jonathan Hill’s salary by a fifth to £715,000.

Speaking after its yearly shareholders’ meeting in Dublin, Flutter chairman Gary McGann argued that the group operated in a business where companies competed intensely to lure skilled executives.

He pointed out that extensive talks with Flutter’s shareholders indicated backers were mainly concerned that the group keep its executives.

Results of a shareholders’ vote on a motion on executive pay at the meeting showed close to a third of disapproved of the move.

However, Mr McGann told the gathering that a technical issue resulted in some proxy votes not being counted, so in fact holders of more than 70 per cent of Flutter actually backed the motion on executive pay.

About 99 per cent of shareholders backed most motions at the meeting, including Mr Jackson’s re-election.

“I think the response to remuneration resolution was extremely good,” Mr McGann said afterwards.

Mr Jackson told reporters that Flutter had “completely raised the bar” on investing in safer gambling.

Concerns

He was responding to concerns raised by shareholder Trinity Students Managed Fund that Flutter was not doing enough to tackle problem gambling among its customers.

The fund’s representative, Olwyn Patterson, pointed out that one in five men aged 18 to 24 who gambled regularly developed problems, compared with one in 10 for men of all ages.

She also noted that 34.7 per cent of Flutter’s customers used its safer gambling tools.

“Trinity Students Managed Fund believes that should be 100 per cent of players,” she added.

Meanwhile, Mr Jackson said Flutter hoped to close its €1.9 billion deal to buy Italian operator Sisal in coming months.

The Irish business is also integrating online bingo operator Tombola into the group.

Its chief executive indicated that market volatility had prompted it to put consideration of a proposal to float part of its US online sports betting business, FanDuel, on the New York Stock Exchange on hold.

“The markets are not open to it at the moment,” he explained. Mr Jackson did not rule out the move in the longer term and said the group continued to monitor the situation.

Flutter has been considering the move since last year, but has also said that it does not need to take such as step.

Clonskeagh, Dublin-headquartered Flutter owns Paddy Power, Betfair, Sky Bet, PokerStars, FanDuel in the US and Sportsbet in Australia, along with betting businesses in Europe and Asia.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas

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