The pair set up the London-based business in the late nineties.“I don’t have an entrepreneurial background,” says Wray, who spent eight years at JP Morgan in the bank’s debt capital markets division before launching Betfair. “My father was a stockbroker and my mother was a teacher. They couldn’t understand why on earth I was leaving a nice job in the City to start something utterly mad.”
Today the company’s whizzy technology processes tens of millions of bets each day – more transactions than all the financial exchanges in Europe put together.
According to the Times, the Balderton Capital-backed company has now hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to assess its suitability for an IPO.
It’s not the first time there have been murmurings of float for Betfair. Wray and Black flirted with the idea back in 2005 but, after appointing advisers, pulled out, causing the then-chief executive Stephen Hill to resign. “I have no doubt that, had we pressed ahead with an IPO back then, it would have been on the front page of the Financial Times. It would have been a sexy piece of business. We just decided it was the wrong time and to focus on growth instead,” says Wray.
Betfair’s revenue rose 27 per cent to £303m in the financial year to the end of April 2009, with Ebitda rising 29 per cent to a record £72m, according to Reuters.