Belfast Telegraph

Odds-on that Brexit will be delayed: Paddy Power Betfair chief

Concerns: Gary McGann
Concerns: Gary McGann
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

The chairman of Paddy Power Betfair has said he's offering odds-on for a long extension to Article 50.

Speaking in front of an audience of business figures in Belfast yesterday, Gary McGann said the betting franchise had nothing to gain from a no-deal Brexit.

"There's no money to be made in Paddy Power Betfair or any other companies in a hard Brexit," he said.

However, the Irish accountant, who also chairs Swiss food giant Aryzta, was sharp in his criticism of the EU, describing some of the comments emanating from Brussels as "beyond belief".

"They should be dealing with the big issues, and they haven't dealt with the big issues," he claimed.

He criticised Brussels' approach to migration, stating: "We have the most porous borders probably of any state or set of states in the world."

Mr McGann predicted that there would be no winners from Brexit.

Sign In

"I think the south will lose, clearly Northern Ireland will lose, Britain will lose, but Europe will lose a huge value from Britain exiting the European Union," he said.

The comments came during a lengthy discussion with broadcaster Wendy Austin in front of an event organised by Women in Business at the headquarters of Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

As well as chairing the boards of Paddy Power Betfair and Arytza, Mr McGann previously held the position of chief executive of Smurfit Kappa and Aer Lingus.

He was a non-executive director of Anglo Irish Bank from 2004 until its nationalisation in 2009 in the wake of the banking crisis.

In a discussion that explored the issue of gender balance and diversity in the workplace, Mr McGann described the "unbelievable" attitudes that still exist at senior levels in some companies.

He recounted a recent interview process he was directly involved in for a company chief financial officer. He revealed how another director remarked that Mr McGann's preferred candidate, a woman, was of child-bearing age.

Asked about whether companies should introduce gender quotas, the 68-year-old said he preferred to describe them as targets.

"I'm actually in favour of targets," he said. "Without targets we won't get there.

"In three of the five companies I'm involved with now we have annual targets for diversity built into the business rounds. It's for a significant amount of money, not just a token."

Belfast Telegraph