Czech lottery firm Sazka files for insolvency

Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:10am EDT

 PRAGUE, March 26 (Reuters) - Czech lottery firm Sazka filed
for insolvency under pressure from creditors late on Friday, the
company said in a statement.
 Sazka's chief executive, Ales Husak, had earlier said the
firm, which has been late with payments to a range of creditors
including bondholders, would likely seek reorganisation to avoid
being wound down.
 The company, owned by Czech sports unions, said it would
give further information on Sunday.
 A Prague court had already appointed a preliminary receiver
and creditor committee for the firm earlier on Friday, pending a
decision on previous insolvency claims by creditors. The Friday
filing by Sazka itself may speed up the proceedings.
 Sazka had 10.5 billion crowns ($606 million) in debt as of
September 2010, the majority of that amount in bonds.
 The company had delayed part of a payment on its 2021
amortising bond CZ025854705= in January and lost its rating
from Standard and Poor's. It made the payment later.
 The Finance Ministry, which regulates the gaming industry,
has been investigating Sazka after it failed to pay lottery
prizes on time earlier this month. Sazka has said it had resumed
making payments. [ID:nLDE72E0XC]
 Private equity group PPF, owned by billionaire Petr Kellner,
took over part of claims against Sazka earlier this week.
[ID:nLDE72K20D]. Another big creditor is investor Karel Komarek.
 Sazka got into deep debt after building a 17,000-seat arena
for the 2004 ice hockey World Championship.
 (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)