Despite the country being threatened with bankruptcy, the European football championships helped drive second quarter profit at Greek lottery operator OPAP by 18 per cent.
Spurred also by lower tax levels, the net profit of E126.1m ($159m), up from E106.9m for the equivalent period in 2011, easily surpassed analyst forecasts of E105.4m. Whilst a reversal of OPAP’s 2011 tax provision and resulting in lower taxes this time round helped, OPAP pinned most of its success on the high rise in betting revenues on its Stihima game stimulated by the European Championships, held in Poland and Ukraine during June, and won by Spain.
This was offset by soft revenues from its normal games as Greece as a country looks to miss filing for bankruptcy. Sales dropped 7.5 per cent to E989.6 but earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 4.1 per cent to E160.2m.
The Greek government, which owns 34 per cent of OPAP, has been considering selling off 25 per cent of its stake but investors have been out off by political uncertainty in the country. It is expected to proceed with the by early September allowing a private investor to become the biggest shareholder in OPAP. Shares in the operator have nosedived by over 20 per cent this year.
Opap is now hoping to grow by introducing new online games and video lottery terminals (VLTs).
Last month OPAP chose Italy’s Lottomatica as its IT provider to help it develop its online betting arm. Opap said it ‘is ready to commence negotiations’ with preferred online partner GTech G2, part of the Lottomatica group, with the aim of signing a joint venture agreement. A statement from Opap said: “Following previous company’s decisions regarding its online strategy, OPAP is ready to commence negotiations with the preferred partner aiming to the signing of a JV agreement. The company retains the right to examine its alternative options with the remainder of the contenders if negotiations prove inconclusive. In any case, precautions have been considered, safeguarding the interests of a strategic investor emerging from a potential privatisation process. OPAP is expecting the VLTs rules & regulation issuance by the Gaming Supervision and Control Commission (EEEP) in order to proceed with the project implementation.”