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By Rodrigo De Miguel
MADRID, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Spanish gaming hall operator Cirsa has hired investment bank Lazard to explore a possible market listing, a company source said on Wednesday, and one banker said it could value the company at up to 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).
The bingo hall and casino operator, based outside Barcelona, is owned by 73-year-old Spanish billionaire Manuel Lao who founded the business in 1978 and is ranked by Forbes magazine as Spain’s 9th richest person.
The Cirsa source, who declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information, could not say if bankers were overseeing a dual-track process where a private sale is considered as a possible alternative to a market listing.
“The situation is in a preliminary phase, and the analysis is centred on different options to seek a market listing,” the source said.
Lazard did not respond to requests for comment. Cirsa declined to comment on the record.
Cirsa operates bingo halls, casinos and slot machines in more than 70 countries and booked earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 398 million euros in 2016, up 5 percent on the previous year.
Around 60 percent of its earnings are from Latin America, with a substantial chunk of that from Argentina, which may make a sale difficult given volatile business conditions and unclear regulation in that region, said one London-based banker.
The indebted company has two large bond maturities due over the next five years - 450 million euros in 2021 and 500 million euros in 2023, according to Thomson Reuters data.
It pays a coupon of around 6 percent on both issues, that were managed by Deutsche Bank. ($1 = 0.8490 euros) (Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze and Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Adrian Croft)