ECONOMY

OPAP cancels IT upgrade tender after all

Europe’s biggest betting firm OPAP canceled a tender to upgrade its IT unit, a key issue for the lottery’s future, the company said yesterday. «OPAP’s board of directors… decided to cancel the tender,» the company said in a statement. «The cancellation does not affect the company’s operations.» Greece’s lottery systems provider Intralot, Italy’s Gtech and US Scientific Games were competing in the tender, which was scheduled to expire mid-July. OPAP launched a tender to upgrade its IT unit and secure 9,000 new terminals and maintenance services for its future growth in 2006 but objections by bidders delayed the process. Analysts say the cancellation of the tender would not affect the Greek betting monopoly’s current operations but would delay its future earnings growth opportunities from new activities. OPAP said last month it was in talks with lottery systems provider Intralot to extend a current contract to provide the lottery with hardware and software for the operation of its flagship sports betting game Stoichima. The -65 million deal with Intralot ends later in the month. The lottery, 34 percent-owned by the state, has the exclusive right to organize sports bets and lotteries in Greece until 2020. Its shares trade about 14 times 2007 estimated earnings, compared with about 17 for British bookmakers Ladbrokes and 14 for William Hill, according to Reuters Estimates. (Reuters)