Invest News DetailToday’s Zaman - Turkish government will step up the privatization process of Milli Piyango (the national lottery) in May. Leading foreign companies from abroad as well as domestic firms will compete over the privatization of the operating rights of Milli Piyango, a process that has been on the agenda of the government for four years. The bid specifications are expected to be ready within a month. Merrill Lynch, the world’s largest brokerage, is the first foreign company that has taken a solid step toward future bidding by negotiating with the Milli Piyango administration, notifying the national lottery that it is interested in the bidding on behalf of both the company and its customers. The Greek Intralot, which operates legalized soccer betting, is another company interested in the Milli Piyango tender. The privatization is expected to get tougher with the participation of the sector’s two leaders, the Italian-American Gtech Lottomatica and the US-based Scientific Games, which have also contacted the Milli Piyango administration. Approximately 10 companies are expected to purchase the bidding specifications from the Privatization Administration (OIB) while the final competition is expected to be among three or four contenders. Milli Piyango, which has increased its turnover every year, earned $1.1 billion in 2006 and $1.3 billion in 2007. The Milli Piyango administration transfers some of its profit to public institutions after distributing earnings to the winners; thus, the share of public institutions will be guaranteed during the privatization process. The license to be given in the privatization of the lottery is expected to be 10 years in total. The national lottery will be privatized in the form of either “sharing proceeds” or “license turnover for 10 years” by the end of 2008.