itzio Entertainment Group will seek us$ 500 million to buy gaming chains in Europe and Latin America, while the Finstar holding company will look for us$ 1 billion of new funds to bolster its store chains and property unit, Boyko, said in an April 29 interview in Moscow. “The money will be raised through loans, bond sales and investment by individuals”.
Ritzio wants to open gaming halls outside Russia, where the government is confining gambling to four regions beyond the nation's main cities in July 2009. The company will sell shares in London when markets permit, according to Boyko, whose Finstar is adding to its property and retail units as a 10th straight year of economic growth fuels Russian incomes. “Foreign gaming outlets are showing quite high sales growth and also high profitability," said Boyko.
Cyprus-based Ritzio last month added slot-machine halls in Serbia, its 15th country, and may open in Spain and some former Soviet states, such as Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, according to Boyko, who owns about three-quarters of the company. It's also studying Japan and aims to expand in the Czech Republic, Romania, Columbia and Ukraine, the billionaire said. Germany, where Ritzio has 160 gaming clubs, and Italy also are targeted for acquisitions. In both nations, the three main operators control less than 5 percent of the market, Boyko said.
President Vladimir Putin is forcing Russian casinos out of Moscow and St. Petersburg to curb gambling. Russian gaming sales more than quadrupled us$ 7.8 billion in the six years through 2006, according to Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Union figures. Ritzio has more than 1,000 outlets from casinos to bars, 400 of which are in Russia.
“All gaming companies are looking at western and eastern Europe because they are not sure what will happen to the gaming business in Russia and what returns they may get from operations in one of the four zones," Julia Gordeyeva, an analyst at ING Bank in Moscow, said in a telephone interview.
Ritzio, whose chains include Vulcan, Million and X-Time, plans an initial public offering ”as soon as the market's condition allows" and will seek between us$ 300 million and us$ 400 million in a sale if it's held next year, Boyko said.