Two bidders are left in the race for Camelot, the National Lottery operator, with private equity group CVC vying with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
People close to the situation say a decision on a preferred bidder is imminent, with an announcement possible next week.
Other bidders that looked seriously at Camelot were private equity groups BC Partners and Providence Equity Partners; the French lottery and games operator Françaises des Jeux; and a joint approach from Sir Richard Branson and the Dutch People’s Postcode Lottery.
But among the reasons why some of these are thought to have dropped out is the spending power of the OTPP, which manages its own investments.
OTPP declared net assets of $87.4bn (£57.3bn) for 2008, a figure expected to rise to towards $100bn for 2009. Because of its long-term liabilities, the OTPP finds the stable income derived from the Camelot group’s share of lottery sales attractive.
OTPP has a 49 per cent stake in Bristol airport, owns 48 per cent of Birmingham airport and has 26.7 per cent of Northumbrian Water.
Camelot last year embarked on its third National Lottery licence, running for 10 years, with an option to extend for a further five years.
French media this week reported that Françaises des Jeux did not wish to get into an auction for Camelot and did not meet a deadline for offers, though it would be interested in a partnership with the operator.
CVC is thought to be interested in Camelot’s international growth prospects.
Camelot is also waiting on a decision from the National Lottery Commission on whether it can bid for commercial non-lottery services such as offering mobile top-up and utility payments alongside the sale of lottery tickets in convenience stores.
Camelot was put into play when four of its five shareholders – Cadbury, Thales, De La Rue and Fujitsu – put their 20 per cent stakes up for sale last April.
Royal Mail, the fifth shareholder, agreed to join the sale in December, when the lottery operator was worth about £400m.
The sales process, which is being handled by Greenhill and Rothschild, is thought to have been held up by Adam Crozier’s imminent departure as Royal Mail chief executive.
None of the parties were willing to comment.
Get alerts on Travel & Leisure when a new story is published