France set to privatize La Francaise Des Jeux

In France, the government is planning to introduce legislation that would set out the mechanisms to privatize national lottery company La Francaise Des Jeux via a share flotation sometime next year.

According to the newspaper Les Echos, Christophe Blanchard-Dignac, head of La Francaise Des Jeux, stated that the company was preparing for a decision by the State on how to reduce its 72 % stake and had hired Merrill Lynch as financial advisers.

La 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 USD 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 USD 13.26 billion with 28.5 million players and a network of 38,700 outlets all over the country.

Blanchard-Dignac stated that while online sportsbetting would be liberalized in the second half of 2009, some 96 % of the company’s activities would remain within its monopoly.