Yogi Berra sure hit the proverbial nail on the head, when he said “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”. At least that’s the impression one gets when hearing all the Greek gambling news about the sale of OPAP.
Just when it looked like a third of the gambling monopoly is finally sold to investors, the whole deal started to buckle.
It appears that Greek-Czech investment fund Emma Delta is not ready to put the final signature on the contract until the terms of another, similarly incomplete deal affecting OPAP are changed.
That particular transaction is worth EUR 190 million and involves the purchase of a 12-year lottery license by a consortium of OPAP, Intralot and Scientific Games. Emma Delta is unhappy with the fees going to the latter two companies for operating the lotteries, as well as their proposed veto powers over business decisions related to those lotteries.
“If the lottery deal is not signed, the privatization of OPAP will effectively blow up,” confirmed Stelios Stavridis, Chairman of HRADF, the Greek privatization agency. Should the deal break down, the Greek government can wave goodbye to EUR 652 million in unrealized budget revenues.
That could also wreck the whole privatization program, which the administration pledged to undertake as part of the bailout deal.
Both Emma Delta and HRADF are, however, determined to avoid such an outcome. Investors still see the long term profit potential in the company, which retains strong monopoly rights under current Greek gambling laws, while the government is understandably reluctant to let go of hundreds of millions of Euros.
So, both parties are currently working hard to find a solution. Nevertheless, the solution seeking will delay the final sealing of the deal by at least a month.