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Is Novomatic flirting with a withdrawal from Austria?

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November 29, 2019 3:25 pm

Is Novomatic flirting with a withdrawal from Austria?

Novomatic is rooted in Austria. The company is based in Gumpoldskirchen. And the good news first of all: he should stay there.

Nevertheless, there have been rumours in the last few days because the Austrian gambling group should be fed up with the behaviour of Casinos Austria in particular. There, however, they have a 17 per cent stake. Here there is naturally the possibility of divesting these shares. Even a further separation from Austria is conceivable. But so far these rumours are based only on a message of the “Kurier”, which speaks of signals of competitors from the gambling industry.

There is, of course, a reason why these speculations are being taken up at all. Once the affair around the Casinos, Austria is meant. The accusations Peter Sidlo to the executive finance committee to elect and in return privileges to receive are meant. In Austria, there is even talk of the causa of casinos. Included is a whole rat’s tail of interdependencies between Casinos Austria, Novomatic and politics.

What are the arguments in favour of a withdrawal of Novomatic from Austria?

“We imagined things differently when we bought the casinos shares”, Harald Neumann is quoted in his role as boss at Novomatic. With regard to concrete plans, the CEO did not want to make any statements to the courier. This, of course, fuels speculation further. But soberly, there is no clear statement about withdrawal from Austria. Press spokesman Bernhard Krumpel of Novomatic told the APA that speculations are not commented on.

However, the courier, where the rumours originated in the first place, wants to know that at least the group’s headquarters should remain in Gumpoldskirchen. A departure of the group would be a heavy blow for Austria because the company is one of the largest employers and therefore earns the state taxes accordingly.

The word “withdrawal” must be interpreted. Where could Novomatic withdraw? The courier speaks of slot machines and sports betting. Both would be united in the Admiral Group. The standard reports, as can be heard from the environment of the competition, that “there should be consequences”. These are to be “discussed in the coming weeks”.

But concerning Admiral, there was already an official statement last Wednesday: “A withdrawal of Admiral is not up for discussion”, it is said. It is also stated that the current 2019 financial year is going very well and that the sports betting and vending machine segments are expected to continue their positive development in the coming years. In fact, the betting business is facing the year 2020 with a European Championship.

Rumours and speculations: There is still a lot of education to be done in the casino causa. Novomatic will also certainly speak about the current state of affairs in the coming weeks.

Will Novomatic sell its 17 per cent stake in Sazka?

Even if Novomatic stays in Austria with its own business, it wouldn’t be the first rumour – the withdrawal – which contains a grain of truth. The strong man at the top made it clear that boss Neumann’s ideas about Casinos Austria differ from reality. Possibly thus with disposal of the casino portions, one flirts. Novomatic has a stake of 17 percentage points here. The Sazka Group has held a 34 per cent stake since January 15h, 2018. Rumours have it that the acquisition of shares in Novomatic and Bankhaus Schelhammer & Schattera has been decided for the future.

However, Novomatic denied these rumours a good 1.5 years ago. But in the meantime, a lot has happened. Perhaps the Austrians are currently reconsidering their participation. The Sazka Group is definitely interested. The increase was already being discussed at that time, which would have brought the Czechs up to 61 percentage points of CASAG’s shares.

Here, too, it is only rumoured that derived from a statement by Novomatic boss Neumann and derived from undefined sources in Novomatic’s environment. The Sazka Group expressed itself as follows: “We firmly believe that the two largest shareholders, Sazka and ÖBAG, with a combined stake of 71 per cent, should quickly reach a joint agreement on the well-being of the company”.

Sazka calls for a change in the personnel structure: “The shareholder would like to see a change of personnel in positions where the persons currently acting were involved in background deals.

What’s the next step for Novomatic 2020?

What is currently happening is completely open. There is little point in further fueling speculation. First, the causa of casinos has to be completely cleared up. It is within the bounds of possibility that Novomatic will repel the shares of CASAG to free itself from all the pressure in this affair. If the company from Lower Austria transfers its shares to Sazka, further capital will be available for investment. This could, for example, be invested in the subsidiary “Novomatic Americas Holdings Inc.”.

This is an investment in America. For the market in the USA, which is estimated at over 100 billion euros in the gambling sector, is currently experiencing strong competition. Novomatic operates locations in more than 50 countries and even contributes its services and products to 75 nations.

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