France planning to sell 50 percent of lottery group though IPO - paper

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government is planning to sell a stake of around 50 percent in national lottery company Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) via a stock market listing as it kicks off a wave of privatisations, the Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday.

The government has announced plans to sell 10 billion euros (8.71 billion pounds) worth of stakes in state-owned companies to raise money for a new fund to finance innovation, an election pledge of President Emmanuel Macron.

The lottery company has long been flagged as one of the first candidates for a privatisation.

Investment bank BNP Paribas as well as law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP were mandated by France’s state holding company APE to pave the way for a sale of FDJ, which is 72 percent owned by the government.

The state had finally opted to open the sale up to the public through a stock market flotation, in an overhaul of the FDJ that should be finalised no later than early 2019, the Journal du Dimanche (JDD) reported, citing sources.

The French state would retain a stake of close to 25 percent in the company, Europe’s second-biggest lottery after Italy’s Lottomatica, while a private investor hailing from the gaming or media sector could also take a slice of the capital, the JDD said.

The economy ministry declined to comment, while the state holding company APE could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Sarah White and Caroline Paillez; Editing by Janet Lawrence