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Lottery operator Sazka puts London flotation plans on ice

Sazka had planned to list in the capital as part of a major assault on the UK lottery market.

Sazka has abandoned plans for an IPO (PA).
Sazka has abandoned plans for an IPO (PA).

Czech lottery operator Sazka has shelved plans for a London stock market flotation, compounding a miserable week for the City’s IPO market.

Sazka had planned to list in the capital as part of a major assault on the UK lottery market, according to people familiar with matter.

But the Press Association can reveal that the firm’s initial public offering has been derailed due to market volatility.

“Sazka Group has put its IPO plans for the London listing on hold for the time being due to a number of uncertainties, including those caused by the volatile market environment,” the company said in an emailed statement to PA.

It comes in the same week that two high profile flotations – that of Aston Martin and Funding Circle – have faltered in their first days of trading.

Sazka hired Citigroup, JP Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley last year to work on the IPO.

Sources said the firm had hoped to use a London listing as a launchpad to challenge Camelot for the UK’s National Lottery licence, which will change hands in 2023.

It is unclear whether those plans will now go ahead.  The Gambling Commission will begin the preparing the groundwork for interested parties to bid for the licence next year.

“A revival of our IPO plans is contemplated once market conditions have improved and there is greater clarity over these and other uncertainties,” Sazka added.

Owned by Czech investors Karel Komarek’s KKCG group and Jiri Smejc’s EMMA Capital, Sazka is one Europe’s largest gaming groups.

It raked in revenue of 1.13 billion euros (£1 billion) in 2017, while earnings rose to 353.4 million euros (£312 million).

The firm said: “Sazka Group continues to expand its business both organically and via acquisitions.

“Earlier this year we successfully completed joint venture relating to the largest Croatian sports betting company SuperSport (with the possibility to increase our shareholding to 100% in a few years) and increased our shareholding in Casinos Austria.”

Press Association

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