Home > Finance > Apollo Funds to invest €500m in Sazka and KKCG

Apollo Funds to invest €500m in Sazka and KKCG

| By Robert Fletcher
Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has brokered a deal to invest €500m (£448.1m/$591.8m) in Sazka Group and KKCG, the investment body behind the pan-European lottery and gaming giant.

Subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, the funds will be affected through an investment into Sazka Entertainment AG, a newly established, 100% wholly-owned subsidiary of KKCG.

Upon closing of the investment, Sazka Entertainment will be the 100% owner of Sazka Group.

Sazka said that most of the new funds would go towards acquisition and growth opportunities in Europe and North America, with a particular focus on lotteries.

The investment is expected to complete in 2021.

“Our business is entering into a new era and this investment and strategic partnership will support our long-term expansion plans,” KKCG founder and Sazka Group chairman Karel Komárek said.

“In partnership with a strong US investor, Sazka Group is well positioned to expand in Europe, the US and other potential regions, continuing to focus on lottery and complementary gaming verticals.”

“I am convinced that the gaming industry is one of the most promising sectors for the future and Sazka Group aspires to be a global player in this sphere.

Apollo partner and European co-head of hybrid value, James Kim, added: “Sazka Group has a very successful track record of organic and inorganic growth and we believe this investment, coupled with our sector expertise and relationships, will help the management team achieve their strategic growth plans in Europe and around the globe.”

The investment comes after Apollo looked set to compete for Wiliam Hill, having put forward a proposal to acquire the bookmaker in September.

However, the William Hill board backed a rival bid from Caesars Entertainment, which has since agreed terms to acquire the operator last month.

Caesars will seek buyers for William Hill’s non-US operations, once it completes the deal.

Meanwhile, Sazka has published an update the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on its operations around Europe.

Though all of Sazka’s digital channels continue to operate without interruption, the business said its land-based retail networks have been affected by new restrictions and national lockdowns. The financial impact of these will largely depend on the duration of the outbreak and the extent and nature of the restrictions.

In Austria, the government has introduced a curfew from 8pm to 6am, as well as a temporary ban on the operation of non-essential shops. However, Sazka said as its products are sold in some shops classed as essential, these measures have so far had a limited impact on the availability of Austrian Lotteries products.

Sakza said the same of its activities in the Czech Republic, where the government has limited free movement of citizens. Venues where Sazka’s products are sold remain largely open and, as such, Sazka said he impact of restrictions will only be minimal.

Greece’s lockdown that began on 5 November meant the suspension of business activity for a number of sectors, including OPAP stores, PLAY gaming halls, street vendors distributing Hellenic Lotteries’ products and the horse racing facility at Markopoulo.

OPAP’s gaming activities will continue to operate online and offer an extended range of products, but land-based activities will be limited.

In addition, the Italian government has put in place new measures for the period from 6 November to 3 December, but Sazka said the impact would be limited as LottoItalia will continue to operate, having been forced to suspend activities in the first lockdown.

“Our business proved to be resilient during the first wave of Covid-19 as we benefited from our geographical diversification, multiple land-based and online sales channels and broad range of products, and management took mitigating steps to minimise the financial impact for our companies, our employees, and our partners through selective cost measures and selective participation in government support schemes,” Sazka Group chief executive Robert Chvatal said.

“This time around, the measures implemented by governments are more targeted, and we have the benefit of our experience of dealing with such circumstances as well as an enhanced digital offering.”

Last month, Sazka announced that it would compete for the fourth UK National Lottery licence, and recently brought in Sir Keith Mills, who played a key role in London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as bid chair.

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