Saturday was a good day for bookmakers with 100-1 outsider Mon Mome winning the Grand National at Aintree. 2008 was a good year for Unibet Group plc, which today published its Annual Report showing a 52% rise in gross winnings revenue. Unibet was founded in 1997 and with over 3.1 million registered customers in more than 100 countries, the company is one of Europe’s largest online gaming operators. Unibet was awarded ‘European Sports Betting Operator of the Year 2008’ – the second time in three years that it has won this prestigious award from international magazine eGaming Review.
Peter Nylander, Unibet CEO, commented, “2008 was the year that Unibet continued to strengthen as a leading European Moneytainment® company. Today, we have a stronghold in Northern and Western Europe, and emerging positions in Southern and Eastern Europe.” He added, “2008 was our best year ever in terms of gross winnings and EBITDA. While the weakening of the pound against the euro helped our top line, however, it created an unrealised loss on our euro bond, affecting our net results and dividend capability for 2008.”
The Nordic Region, which includes Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, is the Company’s biggest and most mature market. Unibet is the largest private online gambling operator in the region. While the Company recorded strong growth in this market in 2008, a major emphasis during the year was on strengthening the underlying business processes. As a result, significant improvements were made to Unibet’s return on investment, primarily by analysing the effectiveness of specific marketing activities, and adjusting investments accordingly.
Within Western Europe, Unibet has three mature markets in France, Belgium and Netherlands, and four developing markets in Germany, the UK, Austria and Switzerland. Central, Eastern and Southern Europe is the fastest growing of Unibet’s three regional markets – albeit from a relatively small base. Winnings in this region are split evenly between sports betting, casino games and poker, giving the company a solid, broad base for development.
Unibet now has full-time employees dedicated to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Croatia in recognition of the massive potential for development that exists in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. In early 2009, Latvian, Lithuanian and Bulgarian language websites were added to the Unibet portfolio.
Looking forward to 2010 the company says it aims for a top three position in every geographic market entered. By 2010 Unibet aims to increase gross winnings revenue from GBP 123 million in 2008 to GBP 200 million and for Return on average equity (ROAE) to rise from the 37% achieved in 2008 to 45% by 2010. The EBITDA goal for 2010 is GBP 70 million whereas actual EBITDA for 2008 was GBP 46 million. The capital structure will be guided by keeping a financing ratio of maximum 2 times EBITDA.
Total gross winnings revenue in 2008 increased to GBP 123.4 (2007: GBP 81.4) million. Gross winnings revenue from sports betting amounted to
GBP 41.1 (2007: GBP 26.6) million for the full year 2008. Non-sports betting saw gross winnings revenue amounting to GBP 82.3 (2007: GBP 54.8) million for the full year 2008. Gross profit for the full year 2008 amounted to GBP 112.4 (2007: GBP 76.2) million. Profit after tax for the full year 2008 was GBP 8.8 (2007: GBP 18.7) million.
With 10 years’ experience, strong cash flow and a well-balanced geographical and product portfolio, Unibet believes it is well placed to resist fluctuations in the economy as a whole. From 2009 onwards, the Company’s strategic focus will be firmly on the customer. “The market for online gambling is entering a new, more mature phase in key markets. Consumers are aware of the many choices that they have, so 2009 is the year of the customer, and Unibet will be working harder than ever to maintain their interest and loyalty.” (E-04.06.09)
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