Wednesday, July 27, 2005Contact: Guy Sargent (NZTR)
(+64) (0)274 437 658
New Zealand racing appoints new Chief Executive

The Board of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has appointed Paul Bittar to the position of Chief Executive. He will take up the position in November, upon the retirement of Allan Fenwick.

Paul Bittar currently works in London for the British Horseracing Board (BHB) as BHB Project Manager responsible for driving systems and business development and reform while ensuring effective delivery on a wide range of major BHB commercial projects.

Guy Sargent, NZTR Chairman, announced the appointment today, following a worldwide search conducted over the past four months. “We are delighted that Paul has accepted this position. His racing knowledge and experience together with his commercial background make him the ideal person to take over this vital role.”

“We received 49 applications for Chief Executive when we launched our search in April, and from these we finally narrowed our selection to three. Paul has all the key attributes that we had identified at the start of our search.”

“We very much look forward to welcoming Paul and his partner, Jacqui, to New Zealand in the new season.”

Sargent added, “This appointment marks the completion of our two-year programme to strengthen our senior management team at NZTR.”

Paul Bittar, who is 37, grew up in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia, until moving to Sydney. His interest in racing grew from both his father and grandfather. He attended his first meeting at the Picnic races in Wagga, before enjoying many meetings at Royal Randwick. He has been a member of the Australian Jockey Club for over a dozen years and is also a member of the Victoria Racing Club.

Bittar holds a Bachelor of Business degree, as well as professional qualifications in accountancy (CPA) and a Master of Business Administration degree from Melbourne’s Deakin University, which included research specific to online wagering. He joined Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), with whom he spent a number of years before working in property and funds management.

In 2000 Bittar took up a commercial finance role with the New South Wales Thoroughbred Racing Board (now RacingNSW), focusing on delivery of major projects, including new commercial opportunities and developing strategic partnerships. In early 2004 he joined the BHB in London.

In taking up this position, Bittar stated from his London home, “I’m very excited by the opportunity to enter the New Zealand racing industry during this time of change, and look forward to making a significant contribution to the evolving culture and change process.” “While there are many challenges, I don't see the challenges as a number of stand-alone points to be tackled in isolation. They represent a series of opportunities to be addressed, and these will ultimately provide synergies and will feed off one another if successful. For mine, the key issues are increasing returns to stakeholders, managing evolving wagering markets, necessary taxation reform and developing a more commercially focused culture right across the industry.”

“I’m very keen to ensure that the domestic New Zealand racing industry retains a presence in the increasingly international world of thoroughbred racing. My experience in other jurisdictions has shown me the value of this to the domestic industry. Ultimately, I see our role as one to maximise the benefit attained from New Zealand’s positioning within the global thoroughbred industry.”

He added, “I am particularly interested in the opportunities that exist in delivering improved services and lower costs through the Cluster structure, and driving decision making on an industry-first basis, not from an individual club basis.”

“Driving up racecourse attendance also offers a great deal of potential. Many jurisdictions are seeing flourishing attendance at feature or key events. In Britain the run of record attendances is attributed to the efforts of more commercially driven racecourses in attracting a new audience to the sport. The same can be applied in New Zealand if customer experience and service levels are of a high standard.”

“My experience in racing has primarily been aimed at changing the way we do business by developing a more commercially focused approach. I genuinely believe this can be done successfully without losing sight of the traditions and history of racing and its events.”

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