U.S. hedge fund builds stake in Greek gambling monopoly OPAP

ATHENS Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:05am EST

ATHENS (Reuters) - U.S. hedge fund Baupost Group has a 5.2 percent stake in Greek gambling firm OPAP, a regulatory filing showed on Tuesday, signaling foreign interest in the country's gambling monopoly before its privatization.

Boston-based Baupost Group, run by money manager Seth Klarman, unveiled the position after it exceeded a 5 percent reporting threshold under Greek law, OPAP said in the filing.

Baupost is the third investment fund holding a big stake in OPAP, which has a market value of 2.05 billion euros ($2.76 billion) on the Athens Stock Exchange.

Investment funds Silchester Inv. and Fidelity Investments already own about 5 percent each in the company, according to Athens stock market data.

Activist investor fund Third Point and TPG Capital are among a shortlist of seven investors interested in buying a 33 percent OPAP stake that will be sold later this year.

Debt-laden Greece plans to sell almost its entire OPAP stake as part of plans to raise about 2.6 billion euros from the sale of state assets this year.

Shares in OPAP have risen 34 percent over the past six months, underperforming a 73 percent rally on the Athens Stock Exchange's main index. The stock has been weighed down by concerns over whether its monopoly is in line with European Union law.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter)

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