9/3/2008

Greek OPAP, Turk partners to bid for national Milli Piyango lottery

Reuters - Europe's biggest betting firm OPAP plans to bid for Turkey's national lottery Milli Piyango in a joint venture with Turkish business groups, its chief executive said in a newspaper interview published last week. “We want this project, we want to get into the largest market in southeast Europe, we have the ability to take over (the lottery) but we are not 'rabid' to do it at any cost,' OPAP Chief Executive Christos Hadjiemmanuil told Kathimerini newspaper. Milli Piyango made sales of 459.8 million YTL ($388.2 million) in 2008 and net profit of $331.8 million. Apart from OPAP, other companies interested in the tender include Lottomatica unit GTech, Greece's Intralot, Turkey's Koc Group, Austrian Lotteries and U.S. firms Scientific Games and Camelot, sources told Reuters. OPAP's CEO told the paper Turkish authorities were open to the idea of the Greek gaming group possibly taking over the lottery. 'The climate we met was positive ... there was a friendly mood and open doors,' Hadjiemmanuil said. The paper said OPAP picked Turkish groups Dogus, which owns Garanti Bank, FIBA and contractor Alarco as its local partners and will set up a joint venture to bid in the tender next month. “We chose excellent partners both from a business and financial adequacy perspective. Their participation by 50 percent (in the jv) will have a political and psychological weight” Hadjiemmanuil noted.