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Two Bids For Greek Gambling Monopoly OPAP

opap_702-bigBeing pushed by international lenders to push the pace of privatization, Greece is offering one of its biggest prizes first, the money-making gambling monopoly OPAP,  but the operation drew only two bidders for a 33 percent stake, the news agency Reuters reported.
The offers came as the deadline expired in the bidding process on April 17. The bidders are U.S. hedge fund Third Point, whose owner Daniel Loeb earlier said Greece was ripe for the plucking for speculators, and a group including Czech investor Jiri Smecj, Greek shipowner George Melisanidis and Greek businessman Dimitris Copelouzos, the official who declined to be named, said.
“We are closing with those two bids,” the official said. It remained unclear if Third Point has bid alone or with partners. State-run OPAP, the most profitable firm on the Athens bourse, is a test case for Greece’s ambitious privatization programme, a key element in its 240-billion euros ($325 billion) bailout from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank, (EU-IMF-ECB).
A 33 percent stake in OPAP is worth about 730 million euros ($951.3 million) based on the company’s market value on the Athens bourse. Initially, eight groups of investors, including Israel’s Playtech, Chinese conglomerate Fosun and private equity firm BC Partners, had expressed interest in the sell-off. OPAP officials did not immediately respond.

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