Greek government completes 1st major privatization

Greek government completes 1st major privatization

ATHENS - Reuters
Greek government completes 1st major privatization

A Czech-Greek fund has acquired a big stake in Greece’s betting monopoly. REUTERS photo

A Czech-Greek fund completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Greece’s betting monopoly OPAP Oct. 11, marking the country’s first major privatization under its international bailout plan.

Emma Delta, controlled by Czech investor Jiri Smejc and Greek businessman George Melissanidis, paid 622 million euros ($841 million) for a 33 percent stake in OPAP. The fund will pay an additional 3 million euros a year for the next 10 years.

Selling state assets is a key condition of Greece’s 240 billion-euro bailout and the government is aiming to raise 1.6 billion euros from privatizations this year.

“This transaction marks the completion of the biggest privatization since the start of the privatization scheme,” privatization agency HRADF said in a statement.

The deal with Emma Delta was clinched in May but it took several months of contractual wrangling for the acquisition to be sealed.

OPAP, one of Europe’s biggest listed betting firms, with gross gaming revenues of 1.3 billion euros last year, holds a monopoly in sports betting and in lotteries until 2020 and 2030 respectively.

Other investors in Emma Delta include Czech-based KKCG, Italy’s Lottomatica, Greek businessman ChristosCopelouzos, Russia’s ICT Group and Slovakia’s J&T Finance.