State rakes a windfall in betting group sale

With well over 1 billion euros headed for public coffers from the successful sale of betting group OPAP, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis stressed yesterday that the state’s next step must involve a clampdown on tax dodgers in order to whip the state’s battered finances into better shape. Alogoskoufis was speaking after the Economy and Finance Ministry sold 16.4 percent of the state’s holding in OPAP on Friday to foreign and local investors. The sale will earn the government 1.26 billion euros, the highest amount ever from a Greek privatization equity deal. The takings will go a long way toward helping the state meet its targeted 1.6-billion-euro privatization schedule for the year. «With this sale, there is also a significant push being given to structural changes,» Alogoskoufis said. Demand for OPAP shares exceeded supply by four times in what is viewed as a vote of confidence by investors in the state-controlled business. OPAP shares soared nearly 5 percent higher on the Athens bourse yesterday. The money will also be directed toward paying down Greece’s high public debt, while the government is continuing efforts to cut its budget deficit by targeting tax dodgers. Despite strong economic growth so far this year, budget revenues are falling well short of targets as the state seems unable to collect its money. In an attempt to give tax collectors fresh support, the Finance Ministry yesterday launched the Special Investigation Service (SIS), which replaces the old Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) and will concentrate on tracking down large-scale financial crimes.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.