ECONOMY

Greece to sell state lotteries by end of June

Greece aims to sell its state lottery business by the end of June, clearing the way for debt-choked country to privatise its betting monopoly OPAP, a privatisation agency official said.

Greece agreed last month to sell a 33 percent stake in OPAP to Greek-Czech fund Emma Delta for 712 million euros, the first major privatisation under its foreign bailout.

But the OPAP sale has been threatened by delays in Greece selling its 12-year state lottery licence to an OPAP-led consortium.

“We are aiming to conclude the (state lottery) deal by the end of the month,» the executive director of privatisation agency TAIPED, Andreas Taprantzis, told Reuters.

“This is related to OPAP’s privatisation, which has to be concluded, so we have to get it done.”

The OPAP-led consortium, which won the state lottery tender last year, includes lottery systems providers Scientific Games and Intralot.

Asked when the OPAP sale will be concluded, Taprantzis said: «We want to be able to collect the money this year to be on track with the programme».

Officials close to the talks told Reuters that Emma Delta has expressed concerns over the fees OPAP will pay to its partners for printing, and technology services needed to operate the lotteries, as well as their right to veto board decisions.

OPAP is working to resolve the issue, the officials said.

Athens has agreed with its international lenders to raise 2.5 billion euros in asset sales by the end of this year. But Athens may miss the target by roughly 1 billion euros this year after it failed to attract any bids for natural gas company DEPA.

Athens plans to ask foreign lenders to reset the target.

Emma Delta is controlled by Czech investor Jiri Smejc and Greek businessman George Melissanidis. Other investors include Italy’s Lottomatica, Greek businessman Christos Copelouzos, Czech-based KKCG, Russia’s ICT Group and Slovakia’s J&T Finance.

[Reuters]