Casino Loutraki May Issue Shares in TA

The controlling shareholders of Casino Loutraki are working on issuing shares in the gambling establishment on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Investment company Miloumor, which holds 25 percent of the casino through various subsidiaries, is already drafting a prospectus, but the preparations are still in the early stages. Loutraki is located on the coast of Greece, an hour and half's drive from Athens where the Olympic games are scheduled to start next Friday.

Miloumor confirmed the company is considering issuing the casino, but refused to comment on details.

The Loutraki casino is one of the most successful in Europe, an extremely profitable company that yields net annual profits of NIS 200 million. Its value for the IPO could exceed NIS 2 billion.

Not just profitability supports a high valuation - in the past four years two major deals have given an indication of the value attributed to the casino. In 1999, Piraeus Bank bought 20 percent of the casino according to a value of $800 million, and a year ago Casinos Austria invested 120 million euros in debt and shares according to a value of 570 million euros (NIS 3.1 billion).

For the first quarter of this year, Casino Loutraki posted NIS 203 million in revenues and NIS 52 million in net profits. The business improvement stemmed from increased marketing efforts, which led to more, higher quality visitors to the casino.

Casinos Austria is owned by Martin Schlaff, a close friend of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In addition, a prospectus was submitted in 2001 to take the casino public at a value of $800 million. That offering was nixed when the Athens Stock Exchange hit a trough.

The Israeli partners in Casino Loutraki are Yigal Zilka through publicly-traded Queenco, and Freddy Robinson through Miloumor, as well as the Club Hotel group owned by Nissan Khakshouri and Moshe Boblil.

Another partner in the casino is accountant Yair Karni, who owns 6 percent. Karni is also one of the partners in Ginko Oil Exploration, currently conducting a pre-IPO road show. The Loutraki municipality also has a 14 percent stake in the casino.

Miloumor and Queenco also have a stake in a Rhodes casino, but it is much smaller and less profitable. Robinson and Zilka have privately held stakes in five more casinos, in Hungary, Romania and Africa, all of which together amount to the scope of the Loutraki operation.

Robinson and Zilka also have other privately held joint business interests with Khakshouri and Boblil. The four have a joint holding company called Kolal that bought a bankrupt Romanian commercial bank two years ago for $22.5 million.

Since changing the bank's name to Eurom Bank, it has expanded to 30 branches and a group of non-financial holdings.

Kolal now has an insurance company, a leasing company, quarries, a seed company and a large television and radio station. The partners have so far put $40 million in Kolal. International financial consultants Ernst & Young have valued the bank and quarries alone - the two largest businesses - at $200 million.