Who is Paddy Power Betfair's new CEO Peter Jackson?

The gambling firm's incoming boss is only 41 but already has several big roles under his belt.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 07 Aug 2017

Peter Jackson must have pretty itchy feet. Since standing down as CEO of Travelex just a couple of years ago he’s already done two other jobs, and has now signed up for his third. This morning Paddy Power Betfair (PPB) announced that Jackson would be stepping into the shoes of its CEO Breon Corcoran when he stands down, on a date to be confirmed.

‘On behalf of the Board and management team, we would like to record our sincere appreciation to Breon, who leaves Paddy Power Betfair with the Board’s best wishes, having achieved great success over the past 16 years,’ said the gaming company’s chairman Gary McGann.

Corcoran’s replacement has some experience in gambling, having sat on the board of Betfair since 2013 and PPB after the merger with Paddy Power, but he cut his teeth in consulting and the financial sector.

Originally from Yorkshire, Jackson graduated from Pembroke College, Cambridge in engineering in 1999, before working for three years at McKinsey. He later took a string of jobs at HBOS until it was acquired post-financial crash in 2009 by Lloyds, where he became MD of consumer banking.

But, ‘I just didn’t want to work for a big bank for ever,’ he told the Sunday Times in a 2011 interview. So at the tender age of 34 he became CEO of the foreign exchange giant Travelex, which was backed by private equity firm Apax at the time.

Jackson's youthfulness has thrown up some challenges – in the same article he recounts being mistaken for the tea boy by a candidate he was about to interview. But he remained in place for five years, growing revenues and eventually taking the company through a £1bn sale to the Abu Dhabi-based Indian tycoon B. R. Shetty.

Last year he returned to banking, taking a job as Santander’s head of innovation, essentially helping the Spanish company figure out how to up its game in the face of competition from the new breed of nippy financial tech start-ups. He didn’t stick around long, leaving in February this year to become UK CEO of payments giant Worldpay. Now, six months later, he’s already slated to jump ship again.

Jackson will join PPB at a difficult time for the industry. While online betting has boomed over the past few years as punters have swapped an afternoon at the bookies for round-the-clock iPad casino games, some fear a regulatory backlash.

In January MPs called for a clampdown on high-stakes fixed-odds betting terminals, dubbed the ‘crack cocaine of fruit machines’, which can swallow £100 in seconds. Last year more than one million problem gamblers asked to be voluntarily banned from gambling sites, which makes you wonder if they could be next in the firing line.

Keeping his new company both profitable and responsible could be a big challenge for Jackson. Time will tell if the gamble pays off.

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