November 19, 2019 / 5:37 PM / 22 days ago

France's lottery operator FDJ likely to price IPO at top of range

Logo and grids of French lottery group Francaise des Jeux are shown in this illustration picture taken in Bordeaux, France, November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Illustration

PARIS (Reuters) - French national lottery operator Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) is expected to price its initial public offering (IPO) at the top of the price range, one of the banks organizing the deal said on Tuesday, a day before the subscription period’s close.

“Orders below 19.90 euros a share risk missing the transaction,” one of the bookrunners said in a note to investors.

The final price of any IPO usually matches the guidance given to investors in the final stages of a deal. So a deal at that price would value FDJ at 3.8 billion euros, making it one of the largest deals of the year in Europe.

The initial price guidance for the IPO was 16.50-19.90 euros.

The final pricing is expected on Wednesday with the market debut slated for Thursday morning.

The government launched the IPO process on Nov. 7, looking to sell down its majority stake in FDJ in France’s biggest wave of privatizations in more than a decade. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the IPO was drawing strong interest from investors at home and abroad.

According to the prospectus, the listing should raise up to 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) for the government, which has earmarked the proceeds for a 10 billion euro innovation fund and to reduce the state debt burden.

If the listing goes smoothly, it could embolden the government to press on with other big asset sales, such as the more lucrative but politically trickier sale of airports operator ADP (ADP.PA) and a stake in power group Engie (ENGIE.PA).

Reporting by Gwénaëlle Barzic and Arno Schuetze; Editing by Edmund Blair

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