January 25, 2018 / 6:47 PM / a year ago

French lottery FDJ sales rise 5.7 pct ahead of possible privatisation

* 2017 sales 15.1 bln euros, up 5.7 pct

* FDJ awaits state decision on possible stake sale - CEO

* Report on FDJ privatisation due mid-February, sources have said

By Gilles Guillaume and Gwénaëlle Barzic

PARIS, Jan 25 (Reuters) - French national lottery company Française des Jeux (FDJ) lifted sales by 5.7 percent to 15.1 billion euros ($19 billion) in 2017, confirming its robust health ahead of its possible privatisation, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Last year’s strong sales performance follows a 3.6 percent rise in sales in 2016 by FDJ, Europe’s second-biggest lottery after Italy’s Lottomatica.

“This confirms the capacity of FDJ to generate dynamic growth over several years,” CEO Stephane Pallez told Reuters.

On its website, Francaise des Jeux reported a 2016 net profit of 145.8 mln euros. It has not yet released the figure for 2017.

FDJ is 72 percent state-owned and sources have said it is likely to be among the first companies to kick off a wave of French privatisations.

BNP Paribas bank and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, mandated by France’s state holding company APE to prepare the privatisation of FDJ, will hand in a report on the operation by mid-February, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

“It is clear that the state is the shareholder and will thus decide on the matter. We are expecting the state to take decisions within its own timetable,” Pallez added.

The French finance ministry has announced plans to sell 10 billion euros ($12.48 billion) worth of stakes in state-owned companies to raise money for a new fund to finance innovation, an election pledge of President Emmanuel Macron. ($1 = 0.8003 euros) (Reporting by Giles Guillaume and Gwenaelle Barzic, Writing by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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