Czech gaming company SAZKA Group has stated that it has agreed to the terms of a’ cooperation agreement’ with Austrian State Fund Österreichische Beteiligungs (ÖBAG) concerning the ownership structure of Casinos Austria.
ÖBAG has come under strong criticism by Austrian political parties for not using its ‘pre-emption rights’ which challenged SAZKA’s bid to gain a majority +50 percent stake in Austrian casinos.
Last summer, holding a 37 percent stake in Casinos Austria, SAZKA governance negotiated with Novomatic AG to buy another 17.2 percent stake in the incumbent Austrian gambling company.
ÖBAG’s governance would be lambasted for not enforcing its ‘pre-emption rights,’ enabling the Austrian state to increase a stake in SAZKA’s investment in its business.
ÖBAG and Novomatic will be blamed for allowing SAZKA to gain ownership of the majority of Casinos Austria, the holding company of the national lottery of ‘Osterreichische Lotterien’ Austria.
Challenging the motives of SAZKA, Austria’s Social Democrats (SPO) said the Czech company had been given free rein to take over Austria’s national lottery without any sort of regulatory oversight and promises to 3,000 employees of Casinos Austria.
An Austrian finance minister Gernot Blümel, who was under pressure this week, claimed that the ruling Austrian People’s Party (OVP) would offer a’ deal package’ that would satisfy all parties involved.
ÖVP is said to have instructed ÖBAG to waive its pre-emption rights, enabling SAZKA to buy its majority stake in Casino Austria, which will be limited to 51.8 percent by the Czech conglomerate.
Protecting’ Osterreichische Lotterien,’ SAZKA undertakes to jointly run Casinos Austria Lottery Unit for a 15-year period in which SAZKA can not represent any competitor to the Austrian National Lottery.
Casinos Austria will retain its headquarters and business activities in Vienna with all current employees and operations remaining.