French government readies sale of Lottery

The French state has raised one billion euros in subscriptions from small-time investors for shares in the national lottery, which is to be privatised next week, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced Sunday.

The government is selling 52 percent of the state lottery monopoly, Francaise des Jeux (FDJ), in order to raise money for investment in innovation.

It has launched a huge marketing drive to try attract as many individual French investors as possible.

Since the sale began on November 7, "there has been 1 billion euros  in subscriptions from individual shareholders," Le Maire told France's BFM news channel, calling it "an immense success for the people."

Individual shareholders, for whom a third of the shares have been reserved, have until November 19 to subscribe.

Institutional investors have until November 20, a day before FDJ is floated on the Paris stock market.

Le Maire said that small-time investors, who are being offered a two-percent discount, would be given priority if the shares were over-subscribed.

The government hopes the sale will rekindle demand for stocks among French savers, many of whom have stuck with ultra-safe low-interest savings accounts since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

The shares have an indicative price of 16.50-19.90 euros, which would value FDJ at up to 3.8 billion euros.

FDJ is the successor of a national lottery founded in 1933 to help soldiers disfigured in World War I and struggling farmers.

It is the second-biggest betting company in Europe and the fourth in the world.

The state will retain a 20 percent stake in the company.