Thursday September 15,2011 :  Greek financial crisis adds momentum
 
The Reuters news agency reported Saturday that Greek gambling company OPAP expects to sign a preliminary agreement before end September on a licensing deal with the Greek government, key for Greece to meeting a state revenue deadline set by international lenders.
 
Greece must raise Euros 1.7 billion in privatisation receipts by the end of this month to comply with the terms of its EU/IMF bailout. The bulk of this would come from awarding new gaming licenses to OPAP and by extending its sports betting monopoly beyond 2020.
 
OPAP expects to sign a memorandum of understanding by the end of this month, with the final details being settled in a full contract later, and it was not clear when money would exchange hands, its CEO Yannis Spanoudakis told Reuters.
 
"It will be a document that guarantees the outcome of the negotiations," Spanoudakis said.
 
Greece, which owns 34 percent of OPAP, may get between Euros 750 and Euros 925 million from the deal, according to analysts' estimates. OPAP, Europe's biggest gambling firm, would have to borrow some of that amount from banks or from financial markets.
 
But Greece may not actually receive the money by Sept. 30, Spanoudakis said, because the company will have to get approval for the deal from its other shareholders in a general meeting.
 
"That's the main delay for us, everything else is just a question of bureaucracy," Spanoudakis said.
 
The government intends to sell its remaining stake in the company by the end of 2011.