The firm running the French national lottery is reportedly contemplating a significant expansion into the UK lottery market next year.
According to reports in the UK media, the leadership of Française des Jeux (FDJ) is involved in an ongoing conversation with investment giants Rothschild to weigh up its options for taking part in the legal tender process for the UK National Lottery, which will be held next year.
The suggestion that the FDJ could be aiming to extend its reach across the English Channel is a sign of the firm’s confidence after a year in which they pulled off a major IPO. Last month, FDJ floated on the Paris Euronext with a valuation in excess of €4 billion.
And the newly privatised operator has wasted no time in flexing its financial muscles. They have already secured the second-biggest lottery buyout in Europe, reaching a deal to purchase retail payment platform Bimedia for around €50 million. But having cornered the market in retail lottery provision in France, the next step could well be a move into other regulated markets.
Their consultation with Rothschild is particularly significant as the investment bank is one of the four advisors named by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to offer advice for the 2020 tender process. The others are auditing firm EY, legal experts Hogan Lovell and Deloitte.
There is considerable speculation in the UK over the possible winner of the 2020 process. No official framework for the tender process has been released, but a number of potential bidders have been suggested. These include newspaper owner Richard Desmond, Virgin Group owner Sir Richard Branson and the Czech betting industry operator SAZKA Group. SAZKA has already been growing its stake in a number of lotteries across Europe, including buying a 40% share in OPAP Greece.