More OPAP privatization

The government will propose to Parliament that it cut its 51 percent stake in gaming group OPAP to as low as 34 percent to pay down the country’s high public debt, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. The state would maintain board control, despite the reduction in its shareholding. OPAP, with a market value of 7.2 billion euros ($9.3 billion), is Europe’s biggest betting company. «The privatization committee will take relative decisions about the time frame and the terms of the offer as soon as it evaluates all the parameters for a successful stake sale,» the ministry said in a statement. The share sale would be the fourth since the government took OPAP public in April 2001, listing it on the Athens bourse. The company would continue to enjoy its monopoly status on betting games until 2020. Its shares were down 0.4 percent at 22.38 euros yesterday. OPAP June stock futures were off 0.2 percent at 21.5 euros on open interest of 1,131 contracts. «The offer of another tranche of OPAP may lead to some short-term pressure on the shares, but in essence shouldn’t have any significant negative impact,» one analyst said. (Reuters)

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