Pulling All Its Levers, Allwyn Adds €335m Accordion Loan To Its Playbook
Allwyn, soon-to-be operators of the UK’s National Lottery, is back on the financial merry-go-round, leveraging its capture of the crown jewels of British betting to acquire additional so-called “accordion” loans of €335 million (£297m/US$354.89m).
Provided by a consortium of international banks, the six-year loans, which can be expanded (thus the name), will be used to mop-up the constituent parts of Allwyn’s once-bitter foe, Camelot Lottery Solutions, the long-time UK Lotto operators, who are now coming to the end of their tenure.
Camelot, owned by Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Union Pension Fund, has run the British lottery since its inception in 1994.
But last September, after a bitterly-contested fight, they lost their bid to extend their hold on British betting’s greatest prize.
The lottery’s fourth licence, which runs for a decade from the 1st of February next year, was awarded to Allwyn International, a rebrand of Sazka Entertainment AG, majority-owned by Czech billionaire Karel Komárek’s KKCG Investment Group.
Among a slew of other businesses, featuring real estate, energy and information technology, KKCG also operates lotteries in Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Greece and Cyprus under the Allwyn umbrella.
Amid allegations that Komárek was a Vladimir Putin stooge because one of his companies, MND Group, was involved in a gas storage joint-venture with Russian energy company Gazprom, Camelot sought to question Allwyn’s fit-for-purpose status and overturn the new licensing award with a flurry of lawsuits.
Allwyn hit back, dug in and crushed the bitter counter-offensive by the simple expedient of buying-out Camelot.
But not every Allwyn move has worked so well.
Hoping to build on their UK Lotto success, Allwyn attempted to join the super league by publicly listing on the New York Stock Exchange in partnership with NYSE-listed venture capitalists Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp, helmed by the eponymous one-time financial adviser to former US president Donald Trump.
But the proposed partnership and float, with a touted enterprise value of US$9.3 billion (£7.78bn/€8.77bn), was dashed on the rocks of post-Covid investor timidity and abandoned.
Allwyn had to make do with the not-inconsiderable compensation of successfully raising €1.6 billion (£1.41bn/US$1.69bn) of syndicated bank financing a short time later.
“[The new €335 million loan] will help us continue to grow our business, building on our successful €1.6 billion financing in November 2022,” said Allwyn CFO Kenneth Morton.
“I am grateful to our existing lending partners for their continued support and pleased to welcome the new banks to the group.”
Allywyn Group Chief Executive Robert Chvátal, meanwhile, has been appointed interim CEO of the company’s new UK lottery business to oversee what they hope will be a smooth transition process.