En Marche maintains FDJ sale agenda but strategy remains unclear

Addressing an audience of French business stakeholders, Bruno Le Maire – France’s Finance Minister – maintained the En Marche government’s schedule of selling state-owned lottery and betting operator Française des Jeux (FDJ) in 2019.

Le Marie hinted at an event hosted by MEDEF, France’s enterprise association, that an FDJ sale could be completed by November of this year as En Marche seeks to at least one-half of its 2019 ‘Pacte Loi’ enterprise and innovation mandate.

“We have started on the privatization of Francaise des Jeux which will take effect in the coming months,” Le Marie detailed to the MEDEF audience.

Despite Le Marie’s confidence in En Marche achieving its objective, France’s Finance Minister would give no details of potential buyers interested in acquiring Europe’s second-largest national lottery operator.

It therefore remains unclear whether the French government maintains its target sales price of €3 billion for its 72% stake in FDJ, as political opposition accuse En Marche of seeking to sell state assets in order to ‘plug budget holes’ as France nears a 100% GDP-to-debt ratio.

Since declaring its intent to sell France’s FDJ stake, En Marche has floated a number of directives in how to best dispose of the state asset. In April 2018, the government-appointed BNP Paribas to lead a strategic assessment of FDJ privatisation options.

Last July, French news sources reported that En Marche had appointed a collective of national and foreign investment banks to table a potential IPO of the company, ‘moving FDJ into private hands’ – which as yet has seen no bank present an official markets prospectus.

Furthermore, En Marche appears to have made no progress on the demand placed by the French Assembly, that a sale FDJ would see the government create a new regulatory authority supervising all formats of French gambling.

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