OPAP sale delayed until 2012

TAGs: greece, OPAP

OPAPGreece’s sale of their stake in gambling industry firm OPAP is to be delayed until at least 2012. Reuters spoke to Costas Mitropoulos, CEO of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRAF), who commented, “Next week we will announce a public tender for the state lottery. Then, more announcements will follow at about two-week intervals.”

The estimate on how much will be raised has been spruced down to a figure of €1.7billion and delayed until next year. We’re assuming this so that they can create a really cool logo featuring Greek gods that will further facilitate the sale. Not so much a cash cow as a bailout bull, the government owns 34% of the lucrative firm and is hoping to raise part of the €50billion required by 2015 to combat the country’s debt.

Greece’s latest monetary news comes after OPAP extended its gambling industry license for a 10 years amounting to a tidy €849million for the government. This is of course the same firm the government owns a 34% stake in. Surely that means the company’s loaned money to pay themselves and then they have to pay back the loan. A trifle confusing (presumably they’re not paying until at least 2013 when they don’t have the business anymore…).

All of this is while they’re desperately trying to get the firm some plastic surgery so that somebody…anybody…pays a shed load of cash for part of the country. Really though. Would you want to sink a sizeable amount of cash into a land that has been smashing every of their kid’s piggy banks to try and meet the next halloumi bill?

There’s no doubting the gambling industry firm makes the government money, it’s just the value is only going to drop as time goes on. It won’t help if the European Union continues to reject the country’s new gambling industry bill that favors OPAP almost exclusively. The reason for the delays has been widely reported as them waiting for the market to pick up so that the price is higher. Whether this happens remains to be seen and it’s a gamble in itself to wait until 2012 when ultimately the world economy could be a lot worse off.


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