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Opap Drops Most in 11 Years on Higher Tax Report: Athens Mover

Opap SA, Greece’s biggest gambling company, dropped the most in 11 years after a media report said the European Commission may ask for the company’s land-based games tax to be raised to adhere to EU regulations.

Shares dropped 17 percent to 5.19 euros in Athens, marking the biggest one day decline since April, 2001, cutting Opap’s market value to 1.7 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

The EC rejected the Greek government’s proposal for a gradual increase in the company’s tax rate to 30 percent of gross profit by 2020 and asked that it be raised now, to be in line with other betting companies, Kathimerini newspaper reported, without citing anyone.

“The company has not received any notification regarding any amendment of the tax regime concerning OPAP’s operations,” Opap, of which the Greek state holds 34 percent, said in an Athens bourse filing today.

Greece’s government, which is committed to raising 50 billion euros from state asset sales by 2020 to meet conditions tied to two international bailouts, has to clear EC regulation hurdles before it can move ahead with a planned sale of a 29 percent stake in Opap. The company last year extended its monopoly on sports betting in Greece to 2030.

“From a shareholder’s point of view the news is certainly negative if finally confirmed,” Alpha Finance analyst Angelos Chorafas said in an e-mailed note today before Opap’s statement. Eurobank EFG Equities removed Opap from its top picks list today citing “rising uncertainty in the last few days.”

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