Privatization of Greek gambling company OPAP closer to completion

Privatization of Greek gambling company OPAP closer to completion


By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens

The sale of a 33 percent stake in Greek gambling company OPAP to Greek-Czech Fund Emma Delta for 652 million euros is set to go through as planned despite a conflict between opposing business group that almost saw the deal unravel.

Emma Delta’s main stakeholder, Jiri Smejc, told Reuters in an interview that the Greek-Czech consortium will proceed with the completion of the transaction for the acquisition of a controlling stake in the gaming company.

Mr. Smejc said he saw no imminent or serious danger of the deal stalling or being blocked altogether and estimated it will be rubber-stamped in September.

The danger of the sale being cancelled, however, was very real.

The sale has yet to be completed because Emma Delta has asked for changes to the 190-million-euro sale of a 12-year state lottery license to an OPAP-led consortium in which gaming systems providers Intralot and Scientific Games also take part.

Emma Delta wants OPAP to pay lower fees to Intralot and Scientific Games for operating the lotteries and it also objects to the two companies’ right to veto board decisions on how the lotteries should be run. Minor partners in the new lottery company, Intralot and Scientific Games control no more than 16.5 pct.

Mr. Smejc’s statement signifies involved parties will seek a solution to the issues that have arisen and sale terms without jeopardizing the sale of OPAP.

The sale of OPAP was the first to go through since Samaras became Prime Minister in the summer of 2012 and is considered key to the government’s entire privatization program. Failure to see it through, especially after the sale of state gas company DEPA to Gazprom also faltered, would be a huge blow to the government and its drive to implement an asset sale program agreed with its international lenders.