(image credit: BBC)
The boss of the online gambling firm Bet365 has received what’s believed to be the largest annual pay packet in UK history.
Denise Coates, who lives in Sandbach, is the thought to be the highest paid director of Bet365 Group.
She is the company’s founder and majority shareholder, and has taken the title of the UK’s highest paid boss for several years.
Company accounts reveal the firm highest paid executive earned a salary of £421m in the year ending 29th March, alongside £48m in dividends, taking total pay to £469m.
The company described the arrangements as “appropriate and fair” despite falling sales last year.
Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre commented: “There is a question of what represents a fair and proportionate reward for developing a popular gambling website, and what is excessive.
“It’s not hard work or innovation that generates such extreme incomes on an ongoing basis, but ownership of the company’s infrastructure and branding.
“It’s appallingly inefficient for single individuals to hoard wealth in this way when more progressive policies on taxation, intellectual property ownership or profit sharing could re-direct it towards better public services or raising living standards for low and middle income earners.
“Billionaire wealth and unnecessary poverty co-existing side by side are essentially a policy choice resulting from the design of the UK’s economic system not an inevitable consequence of entrepreneurship.”
Ms Coates established Bet365 in a car park in Stoke-on-Trent.
She is unsurprisingly one of Britain’s wealthiest women, but is also a major philanthropist and has donated millions of pounds via the Denise Coates Foundation.
Her salary in the year to March was more than 50% higher than the £277m received in 2019. It means she earned almost £1.2m every day last year.
Analysis shows that this is greater than the salaries of the top executives of every FTSE 100 company combined.
The salary award is seemingly out of kilter with the company’s performance, however.
Sales at Bet365 fell by 8% (to £2.8bn) as international sporting events were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Profits at the company slipped by 74% (to £194.7m).
The company said it did not cut staff pay or lay off any employees as a result of the crisis, nor did it make use of the government’s furlough scheme.
In addition, a donation of £85m was made by Bet365 to Ms Coates’s charitable foundation.