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UPDATE 1-Greece privatises state lotteries for 190 mln euros
December 12, 2012 / 6:16 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Greece privatises state lotteries for 190 mln euros

(Adds OPAP statement, Lottomatica withdrawal)

ATHENS, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Greek sports betting monopoly OPAP will take over Greece’s state lotteries in a 190-million-euro ($247 million) cash deal, the debt-laden country’s second privatisation this year.

OPAP, in consortium with gaming technology partners Intralot , Lottomatica and Scientific Games, was the sole bidder for a 12-year licence to run lotteries which generated about 60 million euros profit last year.

The deal bolsters the dominant position of OPAP, one of Europe’s biggest gambling firms, in Greece’s lotteries market. State-controlled OPAP is itself being privatised with the government planning to sell almost all its 34 percent state stake in the company to investors next year.

According to a source, Italy’s Lottomatica will withdraw from the bidding consortium because the offer price was raised to exceed its investment limits. Privatisation agency HRADF put the deal’s total value, over its 12-year life, at 1.5 billion euros.

Lottomatica has sold its entire 33 percent stake in the bidding group to OPAP, a source in Italy said. OPAP said in a statement that Lottomatica kept a single share.

Greece is trying to jump start its privatisation plans to convince lenders it is serious about selling off state assets to pay down public debt.

Privatisation revenues are a key part of the country’s EU/IMF bailout. But they have been far below original targets with just about 1.8 billion euros raised so far, including Wednesday’s sale which is still subject to parliamentary approval.

The lotteries agreement came after an 81 million euro deal in September, when the government picked real estate firm Lamda Development to manage a shopping mall that served as a broadcasting centre during the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Greece lowered its privatisation target last month to about 11 billion euros by 2016, compared with an original target of 19 billion by the end of 2015.

Ioannis Emiris, head of the privatisations agency, said on Wednesday the OPAP deal was “most satisfactory”, adding it guaranteed “the significant increase of state revenues and the creation of new jobs”. ($1 = 0.7693 euro) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou, Karolina Tagaris and Alberto Sisto; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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