ECONOMY

Emma Delta secures an extension for OPAP offer

The OPAP privatization saga looks set to drag on for another week, as Emma Delta has secured an extension until May 1 to submit a more attractive bid for the gaming monopoly’s 33 percent stake.

Emma Delta is the sole remaining bidder for the controlling stake in the country’s only betting company. Representatives of Emma Delta on day attended a state privatization fund (TAIPED) board meeting, at which they requested a week’s extension, and got it.

Fund officials said that the request had been submitted on Tuesday evening. Emma Delta argued that there was not enought time for the investors in the consortium to discuss and agree on a revised offer and also cited the time-consuming process of amassing the additional funds that the parties would contribute in the event that they agreed to increase the offer.

TAIPED officials have stressed that next Wednesday is the absolute deadline for the submission of an offer that tops the original 622 million euros plus 60 million in the form of a state dividend for 2012.

The Czech part of the consortium appears to be the tougher nut to crack as far as a possible increase in the bid is concerned, compared to the more lenient stance taken by the local entrepreneurs participating in Emma Delta – Giorgos Melissanidis and Christos Copelouzos – though it remains unclear whether they can shoulder the difference on their own. The reason why they may not be able to come up with the funds is that the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), which controls most Greek banks, has prohibited the issue of loans for the acquisition of company shares.

It is also uncertain whether the Czechs would be happy to concede an additional share of the consortium to their Greek partners, who now control just 33 percent of Emma Delta. It is therefore highly unlikely that an agreement in that direction would have taken place even with the support of Greek banks.