UK's best-paid boss gets a £48m payrise

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Bet365 founder Denise Coates was awarded a CBE in 2012. Photo: Sean Dempsey – WPA Pool/Getty Images.

The betting giant Bet365 has given the UK’s best-paid boss a £48m ($61.5m) pay rise.

Denise Coates, the billionaire founder of the online company, saw her salary rise to £265m ($339.4m) including dividends, making her one of the world’s highest-paid business leaders.

The co-CEO was already the UK’s most well-remunerated director last year,  after overseeing the rapid growth of a firm she founded in a car park in 2000.

Accounts filed with Companies House this week show the total salaries of Bet365’s key directors and managers ballooned from £321.9m ($412.3m) last year to £448.6m ($574.6m).

The private company is owned by Ms Coates and other family members, with her brother John serving as chief executive and her father Peter its chairman. The family appear regularly on rich lists, with Ms Coates’ worth alone estimated at £2.9bn ($3.7bn) by Forbes.

The rise means the 51-year-old now earns around £30,000 an hour – more than the average British worker takes home in a year.

Ms Coates, who was awarded a CBE in 2012, began her career working in her father’s betting shops while studying econometrics at university, according to Forbes. She then trained as an accountant and sold the family shops to bookmaker Coral, before buying up the domain in 2000.

She was one of the first to spot the enormous potential of online gambling when many competitors were still far more focused on bricks-and-mortar stores.

The news comes amid rising criticism of the industry over problem gambling, with new figures out on Wednesday expected to show 55,000 teenagers are affected, according to the Daily Mail.

A Gambling Commission audit reportedly shows 450,000 teenagers regular engage in betting, with young people betting an average of £16 ($20.50) a week online and in shops – despite it being illegal.

The highest-paid chief executive in the FTSE 100 stood down earlier this month, saying controversy over his remuneration was damaging his company’s reputation.

Jeff Fairburn, the boss of Britain’s second largest housebuilder Persimmon (PSN.L), received £47.1m ($60.4m) in 2017, but announced his resignation on 6 November.

The second high-paid UK business leader in the FTSE 100 last year was Simon Peckham of Melrose Industries (MRO.L),  whose £42.8m ($54.8m) pay package was 43 times higher than the previous year.