SAZKA confirms OPAP takeover intent

Czech gambling conglomerate SAZKA Group has clarified its intentions to secure ‘full control’ of Athens-listed OPAP SA, Greece’s largest lottery and sports betting operator.

On Monday, the Athens Securities Exchange temporarily suspended OPAP’s listing, announcing that the gambling group anticipated a ‘major imminent corporate event’.

This morning, Reuters disclosed that SAZKA governance had submitted a formal Athens Exchange filing detailing its intentions to acquire OPAP outright.

At present SAZKA maintains a 33% holding in OPAP, which is secured through its Emma Delta subsidiary and co-owned with Greek shipping tycoon Georgios Melissanidis.

The Czech conglomerate, which operates one of European gambling’s biggest investment portfolios, secured its original holding in OPAP during 2013, as the Greek government was forced to privatise a number of state-owned enterprises, required under the terms of Greece’s IMF bailout. 

In its filing, SAZKA governance has propositioned an opening ‘€9.12 per share’ offer to OPAP investors (transaction value €2.10 billion),  significantly below the speculated ‘40% premium of €14-per-share’ offer reported on Monday by Greek business news sources.

Having restructured its ownership, SAZKA is controlled by Czech billionaire Karel Komarek Jr KKCG fund which is reported to aggressively expanding its holdings in established European gambling enterprises.

Having received SAZKA confirmation offer, The Athens Exchange will resume trading on OPAP shares today.

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