11/12/09 – The Times reports that Sir Richard Branson is to partner up with an unidentified investment company and the Dutch-owned People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL), in a bid for control of Camelot, the UK's National Lottery operator. The consortium is reportedly interested in acquiring an eighty percent stake in the operator.
In April, four of Camelot’s five shareholders — Thales, Fujitsu, Cadbury and De La Rue — appointed Greenhill and Rothschild, the investment banks, to advise on a possible sale of their individual 20 percent stakes. The intentions of Royal Mail, which owns the other 20 percent, are uncertain.
The likely sale price is not known, although analysts predict that an 80 percent stake could fetch between GBP 200 million and GBP 250 million.
Sir Richard, who has twice lost out to Camelot in the bidding for the National Lottery licence, is tipped to plough back the dividends currently paid to its five shareholders into charitable causes.
PPL is part of Novamedia, a charity lottery group founded by Boudewijn Poelmann, a Dutch entrepreneur who is a founding shareholder in City AM, the free financial newspaper, and a board director at Feyenoord, the Dutch football club.
Novamedia has operations in the Netherlands, Sweden and, since 2005, Britain and claims to have given more than €3.5 billion (£3.1 billion) to charities. PPL has recently launched a nationwide rollout across Britain, working with 5,000 local retailers.
There are said to be as many as 20 prospective bidders for the Camelot stake, including Sugal & Damani, the Indian lottery operator. The deadline for offers is next Wednesday.