Greek Gambling Monopoly Sold As Reforms ContinueMay 20, 2013 2:01 pm
Greece has now sold a 33% stake in its gambling monopoly OPAP to Czech-Greek consortium Emma Delta for €712 million. After the deal was made, Greece Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said it signalled his country’s clear determination to carry out reforms in the wake of its bailout agreements.
Gambling analysts inside the country also hailed the move, with research director Aggelos Tsakanikas for the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, explaining: “It is important as a signal to the international community and markets that the privatisation programme is moving [forward].”
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund will now receive €622 million of the money as a lump sum, €60 million will be paid towards the state’s dividend for 2012, while the remaining €30 million will be paid over the next ten years. The deal represents at least a 50% improvement on the dividends Greece could have expected to collect in the absence of privatisation, which would have been just €13 million for the 2013 financial year.
OPAP has a monopoly license for sports betting until 2020, and rights to running the lottery until 2030. The sale of the gambling monopoly may have come after three years of calls by the EU-IMF-ECB Troika for quicker privatisation, but the latest deal was perhaps one of the more palatable ones as it did not carry a political cost as there was no huge foreign interest in it. Nevertheless, OPAP’s sale is likely to be just one step in a line of other privatisation deals sure to follow, and as Antonis Klapsis, head of research for the Konstandinos Karamanlis Institute for Democracy, explained:.
“It also gives a clear sign that the government is firmly determined, despite the reactions by the opposition, to implement all the necessary reforms in order to give a boost to Greek economy. The climate in Greece is changing and hopefully foreign investors will appreciate it and will choose Greece as a place to make business.”