ECONOMY

Smejc says Emma Delta will buy OPAP, then look at lotteries deal

The government has breathed a sigh of relief after Reuters on Wednesday reported a statement by the main stakeholder in Emma Delta, Jiri Smejc, that the Greek-Czech consortium will move ahead with the completion of the transaction for the acquisition of a controlling stake in gaming company OPAP, and then examine the contract for the operation of state lotteries that the current management of OPAP is about to sign.

“That should not cause a delay to the procedure. I do not see any present or important risks that would delay or block the agreement on OPAP,” Smejc told Reuters in an interview.

This also confirms Emma Delta’s intention to thoroughly scrutinize the contract that the OPAP-led consortium is supposed to sign to take control of the operations of the country’s various state lotteries, with the OPAP management being accountable to Emma Delta regarding any acts or omissions pertaining to that deal.

Emma Delta has won the tender to acquire a 33 percent stake in the country’s gaming monopoly along with its management, but the deal has stalled as Smejc’s minor partner in the consortium, the Melissanidis family, has objected to the contract OPAP Investments – a 100 percent-owned OPAP subsidiary – is set to sign for the 12-year permit to run the lotteries.

The lottery contract secures veto rights for minor partners Intralot and Scientific Games, thereby giving OPAP’s technological suppliers the ability to shoot down any deal that may not be in their interest, despite having just 16.5 percent apiece in the new lottery company.

Emma Delta was said to be considering pulling out of the OPAP deal, thereby throwing the government’s privatization program into chaos, but yesterday’s statement by Smejc appears to have cleared things up.

The OPAP sale is now expected to be completed by September, according to reports, bringing some much-needed cash into the state coffers.