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Monday, 10 December, 2018

From meat factory to gambling big hitter – the rise of Kenny Alexander

GVC Holdings chief executive Kenny Alexander
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Kenny Alexander likes to have a punt – and that does not just apply to his career as chief executive of GVC Holdings.

The 48-year-old is a horseracing fan – a number of interviews note the presence of a Racing Post on his desk – and his sky blue and white colours are carried by horses trained by Lucinda Russell and David Pipe.

Alexander was brought up in North Ayrshire and his visits to Ayr racecourse helped foster his liking for a bet.

A graduate of the University of Glasgow, Alexander joined Grant Thornton as a chartered accountant before becoming the financial controller of a meat products factory.

It was through the pages of the Racing Post that Alexander got his break in the betting industry when he saw an advert for Sportingbet in Alderney.

He joined in 2000 as finance director and then became managing director of their European operations.

Seven years later he joined GVC as chief executive and in the intervening decade has taken them from small Aim-listed company to being a member of the FTSE 250, one of the powers in the gambling industry with a worldwide presence.

Alexander has shown he has an eye for a deal, first buying the small Brazilian company Betboo in 2009, then joining with William Hill to divide up Sportingbet in 2013 and then pulling off the reverse takeover of ailing giant bwin, snatching them from under the noses of 888 in what he described as a "game of poker".

A takeover of Ladbrokes Coral will be the biggest deal of them all.

In an interview last year Alexander was asked where he thought GVC would be in five years' time.

"I think the company will be the largest online sportsbook in the world," was his answer.

At this rate, who would argue against him.

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It was through the pages of the Racing Post that Alexander got his break in the betting industry
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