Control of Camelot, the UK lottery operator, could soon change hands after advisers formally kick-started the long-awaited sales process.
The information memorandum for the sale was issued this week by Rothschilds and Greenhill, which are running the auction process. First round bids are due in about two weeks’ time.
Camelot has been reviewing its options since earlier this year when four of its five equal shareholders – Cadbury, De La Rue, Fujitsu Services and Thales Electronics – decided to sell their 80 per cent stake in a collective sales process.
Royal Mail, the holder of the fifth 20 per cent stake, is not involved in the process. However, any single buyer of more than 29.9 per cent of the company would also have to make an offer for its stake.
People close to the situation said the sale has already attracted strong interest from buyers and the 80 per cent stake could fetch between £320m ($532m) to £400m ($665m).
Potential buyers could include Cinven, the private equity group, and La Française des Jeux, the French lottery operator.
There are few lottery companies worldwide. Camelot has a nine-year licence left to run the lottery and a possibility to extend that for a further five years.
The franchise has produced profits of about £30m after tax annually for its investors, but last year, with pressure on the lottery to produce £2.2bn for the 2012 Olympics, the shareholders agreed to halve their returns to 0.25p in the pound.