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Bet on Canadian CEOs – if you dare

Last Updated Wed, 01 Dec 2004 20:38:59 EST

LONDON - A British website offers gamblers the chance to bet on the corporate survival – or exit – of Canadian chief executives.

Betfair offers investors who do not shun risk the chance to finally recoup losses on scandal-plagued Nortel Networks, for example, by betting on whether CEO William Owens will still be in his job on April 30, 2005.

Owens is one of 10 prominent Canadian company chiefs whose survival punters can bet on at the "CEO-Meter," launched on Wednesday by London-based Betfair.

Paul Tellier of struggling Bombardier, which announced a further 2,200 job cuts Wednesday, and Gordon Nixon of Royal Bank, which took more than $300 million in charges on Tuesday, are also on the list.

Further candidates include Robert Milton of recently re-capitalised Air Canada, John Hunkin of gaffe-prone CIBC, and Dan O'Neill of Molson, which continues to struggle with its near-$1 billion Brazilian investment.

Based on recent odds on Betfair's website, Milton is the least likely of the 10 to still be around April 30.

Milton's odds are 1.67, meaning an investor betting $10 would win $16.70 if Milton is still the Air Canada CEO in five months. Nixon's odds, at 1.39, are the second highest among the CEOs tracked by Betfair, according to Bloomberg News.

"We're expecting this to be an extremely volatile market with odds fluctuating in response to news releases and investor sentiment,'' Jordan Ferguson, Betfair's head of international sales told the online news service.

At internet betting exchanges like Betfair, gamblers bet against each other rather than against the bookmaker. Betfair is the world's biggest online betting exchange.

The list is rounded out by TransAlta Corp.'s Stephen Snyder, MDS Inc.'s John Rogers' Stelco Inc.'s Courtney Pratt, and Oilexco Inc.'s Arthur Millholland.

Written by CBC News Online staff

Betfair's website

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