Mr Kennedy — who made the announcement ahead of the company’s AGM in Dublin — is due to leave the firm next April, and said his decision is based, solely, on “10 years being enough time at the helm… nothing more exciting or interesting than that”.
He added he currently has no future plans in place, but put paid to any notion of him transferring to a rival operator in the betting/gaming sector, by saying “I will never compete against Paddy Power”.
“I have always had a personal view that, after 10 years at the helm, change is good both for the business and the individual. My complete focus, for the next 12 months, will be on working harder than ever to drive Paddy Power to further success and I’m confident that, when I leave, the company will continue to be in great shape,” Mr Kennedy said at yesterday’s shareholders meeting.
When asked about the search for a successor, chairman Nigel North-ridge said that yesterday was “day one of that process”, with the board having only been told of Mr Kennedy’s decision on Monday night. Mr Northridge said the board will have a difficult task in identifying a new CEO, but will consider internal and external candidates. It is, however, understood that current chief financial officer, Cormac McCarthy, has ruled himself out of the running.
Mr Kennedy joined Paddy Power in late 2005, having previously been chief financial officer of food group Greencore, and succeeded John O’Reilly as CEO early the following year.
His tenure in charge has seen the firm’s pre-tax profits go from €31m to €141m and the company transcend its status as a successful Irish-based bookie to become a worldwide, multi-platform gaming empire.