Penta mulls sale of Fortuna gambling chain

Penta mulls sale of Fortuna gambling chain
Fortuna sponsors the Czech First Division. / Fortuna
By Albin Sybera March 22, 2024

Czecho-Slovak investment group Penta Investments is considering the sale of its betting company, Fortuna Entertainment Group.

Reuters reported that Penta is advised by JPMorgan in the process and evaluated Central and Eastern Europe’s largest betting firm “at up to €2bn”, quoting a source close to the company.

“The process is in the early stages, and Penta is expected to proceed with an auction process towards the end of the summer,” Reuters wrote, quoting its sources.

It “underscores Penta’s commitment to meticulously evaluating alternative avenues for the future development of the franchise, ensuring sustainable growth and long-term value creation”, Penta’s spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The international news agency noted that the development follows regulatory changes in the UK and Ireland, which governments have pursued in an effort to tackle risks accompanying gambling.

The Fortuna sale is expected to attract interest from leading gambling operators on the continent. Penta delisted Fortuna in 2018, shortly after becoming the majority shareholder.

Fortuna started off as a Czech company active also in the Polish and Slovak markets. Today it also runs operations in Poland, Croatia and Romania. Reuters’ source stated Fortuna’s Ebitda will be around €200mn this year.

Penta reported a net profit of CZK11.6bn, and companies in its portfolio accumulated sales of CZK192bn (€7.6bn).

The company, currrently led by Managing Partner Ian Child, has origins in the post-communist 1990s and has become more visible in Czechia in recent years than in Slovakia, where the company and its then head Jaroslav Hascak were at the centre of the country’s largest corruption scandal, Gorilla, which erupted in 2012.

Penta has extensive activities in the health sector, and Penta's real estate branch has made an impact on Prague's city centre in recent years, turning the area around Florenc into office and leisure space.

A Prague court ruled earlier this month that Prague authorities unfoundedly ruled out NGOs from the permit process for the Penta’s landmark new building, the Masaryk Center by the famed architecture studio of Zaha Hadid. NGOs criticised the issuing of a quick land permit, arguing it went into Penta's favour.