Online gambling exchange Betfair said it hoped the World Cup would provide a boost to business after its annual profit came in ahead of forecast today. 

Betfair operates an exchange that allows gamblers to bet against each other.

It has been slimming down its operations and cutting costs under chief executive Breon Corcoran, as it seeks to focus on fewer markets where returns are more secure.

"The emphasis on sustainable revenues and our product and marketing investments are paying off, resulting in record revenues and profits," Mr Corcoran said in a statement.

Revenue rose 2% to £393.6m in the year to April 30, while underlying EBITDA increased 24% to £91.1m. Betfair had previously forecast EBITDA would be at the top end of the a £82-87m range. 

The company said the improved profitability was driven by cost savings which exceeded a target of £30m. 

"Our strong trading has continued into the new financial year and we look forward to building on this positive momentum during the World Cup," Corcoran added.

Corcoran was chief operating officer at Paddy Power before joining Betfair in 2012. He played down speculation that he could succeed Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy who is stepping down next year. "I'm very happy here and very busy here," he said.