Despite the fierce world economic headwinds, and their recent failure to launch on the New York Stock Exchange, Allwyn Entertainment, the soon-to-be operators of the UK National Lottery, have secured €1.6 billion (£1.37bn/US$1.66bn) of revolving funding from a cluster of international banks.
In tandem with its successful pitch to take over the British lotto, Allwyn, owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek, had plans
to go public in New York by merging with a so-called blank-cheque vehicle—AKA, Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)–called Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp., founded by Donald Trump advisor and acolyte Gary Cohn.
But the proposed merger bombed in September.
Although the joint companies were valued at a putative US$9 billion (£7.43bn/€8.65bn), the marriage sundered when it soon became apparent that any launch on the NYSE would shipwreck on the shoals of current fiscal reality.
So Allwyn–who will take over running the UK Lottery in Q1 2024, to add to the portfolio of lotteries they operate in Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy–has refitted and come back for a smaller bite of the credit pie, a relatively modest €1.6 billion facility, cut into morsels of between €300-€400 million, with pay-back commencing 2027.
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Meantime, the company–formerly known as SAZKA—has smoothed the transfer of operations–and nixed legal complications–with current UK Lotto operators Camelot by the simple expedient of buying the company, which is owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund in Canada, for a reputed £100-plus million (US$121m/€116.35).
Commenting on their successful loan application, Allwyn CFO Kenneth Morton said: “I am very pleased by the level of interest that the transaction received despite the challenging capital market environment.
“All our existing banks have increased their commitments and we are happy to welcome several new lenders into our banking group.
“Following our successful issuance of €600 million of bonds earlier in the year, this transaction is a further testament to the strength of the Allwyn credit, as demonstrated by our continued strong financial performance — and our consistent delivery on our organic and inorganic growth strategies.”
As smooth an explanation as any, and one of which the Don, himself, would be proud.
But credit, as most of us know, is a revolving door, and one fears that it will be the humble British lotto player who pays the ultimate price.
Let’s hope that the blank cheques don’t turn to rubber – and bounce.