European lottery and sports betting giant, Sazka Group, has closed its purchase of a 17.19% stake in Casinos Austria from Novomatic.
Austria.- Sazka has finalised its deal to increase its stake in Casinos Austria to 55.48 per cent by buying a 17.19 per cent stake from Novomatic Group.
It brings an end to a three-year “partnership of equals” between Sazka and Novomatic.
The two groups announced the deal in December, recognising that their joint control of Casinos Austria had not been good for growth of the business and that it would fare better under a single leading shareholder.
Since Austria-headquartered Novomatic had the smaller stake, it agreed to sell to Czech-based Sazka.
Sazka has reached an agreement with the Austrian state investment body, Österreichische Beteiligungs AG (ÖBAG), which has a 33.20 per cent stake in Casinos Austria in order to manage the company together.
The Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) had pressed ÖBAG to use its right of first refusal to intercede over the sale of Novomatic’s stake and prevent a foreign owner taking control of the business, but the body finally waived its right.
The financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed but according to the Austria Press Agency (APA) the share Sazka has acquired from Novomatic is worth more than €100million. Sazka Group has secured €105million in funding in connection with the transaction.
Sazka Group CEO, Robert Chvátal, has said the company will look to develop Casinos Austria further, but according to APA the casino operator’s supervisory board is considering cutting up to a quarter of Casino Austria’s workforce. A restructuring programme dubbed ReFIT will be discussed at an extraordinary meeting in July.
“Together with our fellow shareholders, we are looking forward to increasing the value of Casinos Austria – a treasured national brand – for the benefit of customers, employees, and most importantly of all, Austrian society,” he said.