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FDJ completes Premier Lotteries Ireland acquisition

| By Robert Fletcher
French national lottery operator Française des Jeux (FDJ) has completed its acquisition of Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI).
FDJ PLI acquisition

FDJ struck a deal in July worth €350.0m (£303.5m/$375.5m) to purchase PLI. Completion of the acquisition comes following approval from the Irish National Lottery regulator last month.

The purchase represents FDJ’s first venture operating a lottery outside France. FDJ adds it reflects its strategic ambition to become an international B2C operator in lottery, sports betting and online gaming.

FDJ is acquiring PLI from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, An Post and An Post Pension Fund.

PLI holds exclusive rights to operate the Irish National Lottery until 2034. It employs more than 200 staff, operating online and retail, across a network of over 5,300 points of sale.

In 2022, PLI recorded gross gaming revenue of €399.0m. It also reported net gaming revenue of €140.0m, with an EBITDA margin comparable to that of FDJ. Draw games make up two-thirds of its sales and instant-win games one-third, with 15% of all sales being digital.

FDJ plots strategic growth for PLI

FDJ says a strategic plan aimed at accelerating PLI’s growth and improving its profitability is being jointly drawn up. This, it adds, is based on sharing the two operators’ best practices and on FDJ’s experience. Goals include expanding PLI’s instant-win games portfolio, growing the draw games’ player base and improving the digital experience for players.

“FDJ has opened a new chapter in its history by fulfilling its ambition to expand its international presence as a lottery and online gaming operator,” FDJ chair and CEO Stéphane Pallez said. 

“The synergies between FDJ and PLI will draw on our respective and acknowledged skills to offer people in Ireland a recreational, responsible range of games.”

PLI CEO Andrew Algeo said: “FDJ’s backing marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in PLI’s history. This will benefit Ireland’s National Lottery and its many stakeholders.

“I am grateful to both Ontario Teachers’ and An Post who have been generous supporters of PLI and the National Lottery has grown substantially and sustainably on their watch. The PLI team looks forward to further improving the Irish National Lottery with FDJ and contributing to FDJ’s international lottery expansion.”

PLI acquisition just part of long-term growth plans at FDJ

Completion of the PLI deal comes after FDJ last month also finalised its purchase of ZEturf Group.

The announcement completed a process that began in November last year when FDJ struck the acquisition deal. The transaction places ZEturf’s value at €175.0m.

FDJ was able to close the purchase after the French Competition Authority gave its approval to the deal in September.

Founded in 2001, ZEturf employs approximately 100 people and generated over €50.0m in revenue in 2022. Alongside online horse race betting, it offers internet sports betting via the ZEbet brand.

Revenue rises 3.9% at FDJ in first nine months

Also in recent weeks, FDJ published details about its performance in the first nine months of 2023. FDJ says growth in its sports betting and igaming business pushed revenue up 3.9% to €1.88bn during the period.

Lottery remains by far FDJ’s primary source of revenue, with the business generating €1.41bn in the period. However, this was 1.2% lower than in the previous year, with draw stakes also down 6.0%.

Elsewhere, in contrast to the lottery decline, FDJ reported a 9.3% rise in revenue for sports betting and igaming to €360m.

As for player spending, stakes at points of sales increased by 0.8% to €13.28bn. Digital stakes jumped 10.6% to €2.01bn, with FDJ reporting higher digital spending across all business areas.

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