adbury and Thales, which have appointed advisers to find buyers for their 20 % shareholdings in Camelot, have been contacted by a string of potential buyers, according to people close to the situation.
The identity of the suitors was unclear Sunday night, although companies such as Sugal & Damani of India and Intralot of Greece have either bid for or expressed an interest in the National Lottery license in the past. Camelot declined to comment.
Any buyer of the stakes in Camelot would be vetted to ensure it is a fit and proper owner. An intra-shareholder agreement means existing investors have a veto over new shareholders.
A formal sale process will commence next month with the distribution of an information memorandum produced by NM Rothschild, which is acting for Thales, the French aerospace company.
Of the remaining shareholders - De La Rue, the banknote printer; Fujitsu, the Japanese information technology group and Royal Mail - none is thought to be keen to exercise pre-emption rights to increase its stake in Camelot.
Cadbury has hired Greenhill, the investment bank, while KPMG, the professional services firm, has been engaged by the board of Camelot to advise it on the process.
Sir Richard Branson, who twice lost out to Camelot on bids for the license, said this weekend that his Virgin Group was unlikely to bid for a stake in Camelot. "I have always said the Lottery is a license to print money, but given we wanted to run it on a non-profit basis, making money out of it as a shareholder would not be right," said Branson.