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FDJ shares surge in French lottery group's market debut

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FDJ shares surge in French lottery group's market debut

Debut of Francaise des Jeux on Euronext Paris stock market in Courbevoie near Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - Shares in lottery operator Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) surged on their stock market debut on Thursday, after the most high profile French privatisation of the year that could embolden the government to press ahead with other asset sales.

The shares opened up at 23 euros compared to its offer price for institutional investors of 19.90 euros and for retail investors of 19.50 euros.

The stock hit a high of 23.95 euros shortly after trading was launched in a bell-ringing ceremony at Euronext's Paris bourse. By 0900 GMT, they were trading at 22.73 euros.

Relative to the offer price for the roughly 500,000 retail buyers who placed orders, the shares were up 16.6%, outperforming the French stock market where the blue chip CAC 40 index <.FCHI> is down 0.7%

President Emmanuel Macron's government aims to sell government shareholdings in certain companies to raise money to fund innovation projects and boost the overall economy.

The flotation is one of the biggest in Europe this year, and comes after several other initial public offerings were cancelled or postponed due to investor jitters over Britain's exit from the European Union and a simmering U.S.-Chinese trade war.

The FDJ privatisation will generate 2 billion euros (1.72 billion pounds) in proceeds for state coffers, when including a 380 million euro payment FDJ owes the state to retain its monopoly rights for its lottery and sports betting business.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Edmund Blair)