European lottery group Allwyn to list on NYSE with blank check firm Cohn Robbins

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2021 Milken Insitute Global Conference

By Jan Lopatka

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech businessman Karel Komarek's European lottery group Allwyn Entertainment will list on the New York Stock Exchange in combination with blank check acquisition company Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp, the companies said on Friday.

The transaction will put the combined firm's enterprise value at approximately $9.3 billion, they said in a statement.

Allwyn, known as Sazka Entertainment until last year, operates lotteries in the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Greece and Cyprus. It is also bidding for a lottery licence in Britain.

Cohn Robbins (CRHC), set up by Gary Cohn, former economic adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, and investor Clifton S. Robbins, raised $828 million from investors in September.

The deal will support Allwyn's growth strategy including potential acquisitions and licence tenders in Europe and the United States, Allwyn said.

Komarek is one the wealthiest Czech entrepreneurs, with Forbes putting his net worth at $5.3 billion. His KKCG investment vehicle is focused mainly on the entertainment business but also has activities in gas and oil, information technology and real estate.

"It is an opportune time for Allwyn to take this exciting step. Jurisdictions in Europe and North America should have higher expectations for the innovations their lotteries can deliver," said Allwyn Chief Executive Robert Chvatal.

Allwyn forecast $810 million in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from around $1.7 billion in gaming revenue in 2022.

Current Allwyn equity holders will retain approximately 83% of ownership and no new investor will have a stake of more than 5% after the transaction.

CRHC shareholders who do not redeem their shares will be offered 6.6 million shares at a slightly lower enterprise value of $8.7 billion, the statement said.

Investors have committed to purchase over $350 million in equity of the combined company. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to CRHC's shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Allwyn's main operating unit reported consolidated gross gaming revenue of 876 million euros ($992 million) in the third quarter of 2021, up 14% year-on-year, and adjusted consolidated EBITDA up 40% year-on-year to 285.1 million.

Funds managed by Apollo Global Management agreed in 2020 to invest 500 million euros into Sazka.

($1 = 0.8828 euros)

(This story removes erroneous reference to possible use of proceeds toward debt refinancing, in paragraph 5).

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Goodman)