Published: July 12, 2021

Czech Tycoon Revives IPO Plan for Apollo-Backed Lottery Firm

Czech billionaire Karel Komarek is reviving plans for an initial public offering of Sazka Group, the European gambling company backed by Apollo Global Management Inc., people familiar with the matter said. Komarek’s holding company KKCG Group AS is working with advisers on an IPO of Sazka that could take place as early as the second half of this year, according to the people.

London is among the potential listing venues being considered for the lottery operator, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Prague-based Sazka runs lotteries in European countries including the Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, Italy and Cyprus.

Customers placed 6.8 billion euros ($8 billion) of bets last year through the company’s national lotteries, instant scratch-card games, sports wagering and online betting businesses, according to its annual report.

Sazka would join a flurry of other firms seeking to go public, as confidence returns after the early shocks of the pandemic and companies seek to capitalize on strong stock market valuations. IPOs on European exchanges have raised more than $58 billion this year, a nearly sevenfold increase on the same period in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Other eastern European companies to have gone public this year include Polish parcel-locker firm InPost SA with Europe’s biggest IPO of 2021, and Russian dollar-store chain Fix Price Group Ltd.

No final decisions have been made, and KKCG could still delay plans for the offering, the people said. A representative for KKCG declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Apollo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Sazka said in 2017 it had hired banks for a potential share sale in London to fund its growth. It’s expanded since then, reaching a deal in late 2019 to cement its control of an Austrian casino and lottery operator.

Apollo, the U.S. alternative asset manager, completed the purchase of a 500 million-euro stake in Sazka in March. KKCG received 200 million euros from the deal, while Sazka will use the remaining funds for growth and acquisition opportunities in Europe and North America, according to a statement at the time. Komarek has an estimated net worth of about $3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Sazka reported 538.1 million euros of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year.

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