bwin to Bid for Holding in Austria's Lottery Monopoly

19 October 2007

Austria-based bwin has confirmed reports that it will make a run for Bawag P.S.K.'s (Bawag) 36 percent holding in Austria's lottery monopoly.

"As one of the leading online gaming companies, we can't just stay on the sidelines if there is something happening right in front of our noses," Konrad Sveceny, bwin's head of investor relations, told IGN this morning.

Foreign press reports have that the commercial operator joins vending machines conglomerate Novomatic AG and Casinos Austria AG (Casinos Austria) as the third party to express interest in securing Bawag's holding in Oesterreichische Lotterien GmbH, whose minority shareholders include a number of Austrian banks.

Sveceny said that to his knowledge, Casinos Austria holds a preemptive buying right over the stake, but that this had not diminished bwin's resolve to participate in the process.

Sveceny also said that, if secured, the holding could strengthen the group's presence at the negotiating table.

"It may be access to a lucrative market, and generally that might increase our negotiating power vis-à-vis state operators, but it's more of a natural interest that we will take part in this bidding process as we are in the online gaming industry," he said.

According to Austrian daily Oesterreich, the sale of Bawag's stake could generate as much as 200 million euros for Bawag's owner, Cerberus Capital Management, which purchased the bank in December 2006 for a reported 3.2 billion euros.

No time frame has been given for the bidding process.

Chris Krafcik is the editor of IGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Mo.