Following yesterday’s news that the French Government is planning to privatise national lottery company La Francaise Des Jeux, publishing firm Lagardere SCA has emerged as a major contender to take over.
According to the newspaper Les Echos, the State is currently preparing legislation that sets out the mechanisms for privatisation via a share flotation sometime next year with the Paris-based publisher as a possible suitor.
Currently, staff for La Francaise Des Jeux hold a five percent share in the firm while historical French lottery organisations control 20 percent followed by the Soficoma brokerage fund with three percent. The remaining 72 percent is owned by the Government and could be floated off as soon as next summer.
In addition to Lagardere SCA, other names that have been mentioned include telecommunications and media firms Bouygues SA and Vivendi SA.
Las Francaise Des Jeux stated that it was preparing for a decision by the State on how to reduce its 72 percent stake and had hired Merrill Lynch as financial advisers.
Las Francaise Des Jeux runs many games in France such as the standard Loto lottery, Millionaire, Keno, scratch card games and the Euromillions European lottery, which had a record pay-out of $160 million last week. The firm, which was started in 1933 to benefit war victims and those hurt by agricultural disasters, had 2007 sales of $13.26 billion with 28.5 million players and a network of 38,700 outlets all over the country.