(Adds details, CEO quotes)
PRAGUE, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Czech-based lottery and gaming operator Sazka Group said it is looking at an initial public offering in London to help fund growth in Europe.
The group, owned by Czech investors Karel Komarek’s KKCG group and Jiri Smejc’s EMMA Capital, has become one of Europe’s biggest betting operators after acquisitions in recent years.
The group said on Friday it had hired Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Cazenove and Morgan Stanley as joint global coordinators but has not made a final decision on an IPO.
“We are evaluating several options to support our growth, including an initial public offering,” Chief Executive Robert Chvatal said in a statement.
Sazka group companies take in bets worth over 16 billion euros ($18.6 billion) annually, the group said, with 62,000 sales points. As well as the Czech Republic, the group operates in Austria, Cyprus and Italy and said it aims to enter new markets in Europe.
“We believe in future growth via product innovations, customer experience in online as well as, when available, via further geographical expansion,” Chvatal said.
Sazka Group did not give any details on a timeframe for a potential IPO.
It has a 72 percent stake in a fund that has a controlling 33 percent stake in Greek betting firm OPAP, acquired in Greece’s first major privatisation in 2013 under an international bailout deal.
Sazka Group was derived from the former Czech lottery monopoly Sazka. Smejc’s EMMA holds 25 percent of the Sazka Group and KKCG the rest.
In 2016, it bought a 32.5 percent stake in Lottoitalia, a joint venture with then Italian lottery monopoly Lottomatica.
In Austria, Sazka has agreed to acquire an indirect 34 percent stake in Casinos Austria, still pending regulatory approvals, according to its website. ($1 = 0.8579 euros) (Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Susan Fenton)