Allwyn responds after PPF-Russia links emerge

Allwyn responds over PPF-Russia links
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Allwyn has moved to allay fears over its relationship with PPF Group, the Czech investment firm with alleged links to Russia.

As reported by The Guardian, PPF sold its Russian banking assets in May but still has a ‘raft’ of investments in the country, which is yet to cease its invasion of Ukraine.

This is of great significance to Allwyn as the Czech-based lottery operator, which was named as the UKGC’s preferred applicant of the Fourth National Lottery licence in March, has agreed to sell 26 million of its shares to PPF.

PPF already owns approximately four million shares of Cohn Robbins Holdings, whose proposed merger with Allwyn received SEC approval last month.

The merger will be voted on by Cohn Robbins shareholders on September 7.

A spokesperson for Allwyn said: “Allwyn welcomes the scrutiny that goes with being a public company and meets the high standards of governance and regulatory compliance demanded of companies that list on the New York stock exchange.

“As we have repeatedly said, Allwyn condemns Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.

“PPF will have no shareholding in Allwyn Entertainment Ltd, Allwyn’s UK subsidiary that is its proposed licensee to operate the lottery.

“PPF’s agreement to participate in the potential listing of Allwyn Entertainment AG on the NYSE would give it a shareholding of no more than 4.99% in Allwyn Entertainment AG.

“This strictly passive investment gives PPF no role whatsoever in the governance and management in Allwyn Entertainment AG or any other group company.”

PPF Real Estate offered leases on commercial properties in Russia last year including the Metropolis office buildings and a joint project to develop South Gate industrial park, both in Moscow.

PPF also runs a life insurance business in Russia and holds a near 4% stake in the London-listed miner Polymetal International, worth about £30m.

A spokesperson for PPF said: “PPF is in the process of leaving the Russian market, focusing its investments in Europe, as reiterated in June this year.

“The group has already divested Home Credit and Finance Bank, its largest Russian investment.

“PPF strongly denounces Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“There is no link between PPF’s Russian investments and the group’s commitment to the backstop financing tied to the combination of Allwyn Entertainment and Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp.”

Karel Komarek, owner of Allwyn, has a holding company – KKCG – which runs Moravské Naftové Doly, who have a gas storage joint venture with Russian energy supplier Gazprom in the Czech Republic’s Moravia region.

Komarek, however, said in March that he was in the process of removing Gazprom from the venture. Discussions over this are reportedly still ongoing.