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Greece Completes Privatization of Gambling Monopoly

Written by:
Reuters
Published on:
Aug/12/2013
Greece Completes Privatization of Gambling Monopoly

(Reuters) - Greece on Monday completed the sale of a major stake in state-controlled gambling firm OPAP (OPAr.AT) to Greek-Czech fund Emma Delta, a condition of the country's ambitious asset sales program under its multi-billion international bailout.

Athens sealed a deal to sell its 33 percent stake in OPAP to Emma Delta for 652 million euros ($870.52 million) in May but rows among opposing investors over the fees OPAP would pay its partners for technology and printing services delayed the deal.

Cash-strapped Athens is struggling to meet reform targets under its 240-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout and risks losing funding if it fails to comply with its lenders' terms, which include the privatization of state assets.

OPAP is one of Europe's biggest listed gambling companies, with turnover of about 4 billion euros. Its prospects have been clouded by a court appeal against its sports gambling monopoly and sharp tax increases imposed by the government.

Czech investor Jiri Smejc, who controls the Emma Delta fund, told Reuters in July that he would go ahead with the deal but would later review the terms of a separate, OPAP-led lottery contract and whether they could harm the company.

In July, Greece sold its state lotteries to an OPAP-led consortium in which gaming systems providers Intralot (INLr.AT) and Scientific Games (SGMS.O) are minority partners.

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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