French national lottery operator Française des Jeux Group (FDJ) is acquiring Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) for €350.0 million (£299.5 million/US$383.8 million).

FDJ expects the acquisition of An Post and An Post Pension Fund from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan to close this year. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

It also requires the support of the Irish National Lottery, which is operated by PLI.

The takeover talks were progressing after a sales process was initiated back in March, an FDJ spokesperson told iGaming Business.

The deal was confirmed as FDJ published its half-year figures, which showed half-year sales of €1.28 billion – an increase of 6.3% on the previous year. The increase was mainly due to a 10.5% increase in revenue from sports betting and online gambling to €257 million.

Growth in lottery revenue was a modest 1% to €958.0 million in the first half of the year, following an 11% increase in 2022. Despite a 2.3% increase in stakes, lottery sales were boosted by fewer large lottery and lottery sales, according to the FDJ Euromillion jackpots muted.

However, FDJ expects the PLI acquisition to boost the industry’s future performance.

In 2022, PLI achieved gross gaming revenue of €399 million and revenue of €140 million. Accordingly, there was a profit margin comparable to that of FDJ of more than 5% over the course of the year.

Premier Lotteries Ireland

PLI holds exclusive operating rights to the Irish National Lottery until 2034 under a 20-year agreement. This license will remain unaffected by the acquisition, PLI said.

“The Irish National Lottery is and will remain the property of the Irish State for the benefit of charitable purposes,” PLI added. “[It will be] regulated by the National Lottery regulator and operated by Premier Lotteries Ireland DAC. We would like to reassure you that National Lottery games will continue as usual.”

FDJ chairman and CEO Stéphane Pallez was pleased about the acquisition of “a long-standing partner in the Euromillions community”.

She added: “The acquisition of a foreign lottery is another important step in the international development of the FDJ Group.”

Solid results

Revenue in the first half of the year was calculated from a 2.4% increase in gross gaming revenue (GGR) to 3.295 billion euros, less 2.082 billion euros in public taxes. In addition, the sales revenue included €71 million in income from other activities.

FDJ said its financial reports would now include GGR “to ensure better comparability.”

Pallez added: “FDJ recorded solid results in the first half of the year, driven by a good increase in participation across our network of 30,000 points of sale, continued momentum in digital participation and the integration of new activities.”

Online stakes rose 13% year-on-year in the first half of the year, while point-of-sale stakes rose 3%.

Sports betting’s strong performance was attributed to post-FIFA World Cup momentum and a more extensive football calendar.

Financial income

Financial income improved from a deficit of EUR 22 million in the first half of 2022 to a positive result of EUR 19 million in 2023. The increase in financial income reflects the increase in interest rates and a favorable market environment.

The group’s tax expense amounted to 65 million euros, representing an effective tax rate of 26.8% compared to the first half of 2023. Accordingly, the consolidated profit amounted to 181 million euros – an increase of 13.5% compared to the same period last year.

Net cash surplus was €941 million at the end of June compared to €900 million at the end of 2022.

This week, French gambling regulator L’Autorité Nationale des Jeux announced that the country’s gross winnings growth reached a record 12.9 billion euros last year. FDJ and its monopoly colleague Pari-Mutuel Urbain contributed 8.20 billion euros to the total.