MADRID, Spain — The Spanish government is close to selecting three advisers to help it sell shares in national lottery Sociedad Estatal de Loterías y Apuestas del Estado SA that could raise as much as $10.62 billion.
The choice of strategic, financial and legal advisers could be announced as soon as Tuesday, Aurelio Martínez, chairman of Loterías y Apuestas del Estado, said in an interview. The mandates are considered prestigious for consulting firms, investment banks and law firms, even if the fees involved are relatively modest compared with that for banks that will help sell the initial public offering to investors.
Mr. Martínez said negotiations with advisers weren't finished. But a person familiar with the matter said Lazard Ltd. was likely to be named the company's financial adviser.
The Socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero hopes to raise between €6.5 billion and €7.5 billion (US$9.20 billion and US$10.62 billion) by selling 30% of Loterías in the stock offering, Mr. Martinez said.
The sale could be the country's biggest IPO and one of the largest in Europe.
The deal is a key component of Spain's plan to cut its budget deficit to 6% of gross domestic product this year and to 4.4% in 2012. It was 9.2% in 2010. Besides Loterías, Spain will privatize its two largest airports, with the proceeds also going to pay down debt.
Investors are monitoring Spain's finances closely as the euro-zone sovereign-debt crisis rolls on. Greece, Ireland and Portugal have all been forced to accept financial-aid packages from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after investors lost faith in the countries' ability to pay back fast-rising government debt.
Mr. Zapatero's government has pushed through reforms, cut public-sector wages and moved to shore up confidence in the country's banking industry, which suffered huge losses in the collapse of a decade-long real-estate boom.
Loterías may have a stock-market value of between €23 billion and €25 billion, making it the second-largest gaming company in the world by market capitalization, behind casino manager Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Loterías will meet with potential investors in September and October and aims for its shares to begin trading by the end of October, Mr. Martínez said.
The company has a near-monopoly on the lottery business in Spain, and is part of the country's Christmas festivities. Every Dec. 22, Spaniards gather around television screens to watch the winning numbers of an extraordinary lottery announced, or "sung," by kids from the San Ildefonso Catholic school in Madrid. The winning number is called El Gordo, or "the fat one." The ritual is repeated Jan. 6, but there the first prize is called El Niño, or "the boy."
Loterías is by far the largest of a raft of companies that are planning to test investors' appetite for Spanish assets this year. Loterías had just under €10 billion in revenue last year, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of €3 billion.
Bankia and Banca Civica, two Spanish banks composed of merged savings banks, are aiming for mid-July listings, bankers say. Bankia this week is presenting itself to analysts, a key step in its IPO process. Banca Civica went through the same exercise two weeks ago. Bankia is seeking to raise between €3 billion and €4 billion, while Banca Civica hopes to raise between €800 million and €1 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
In addition, Telefónica SA is looking to sell a large stake in its call-center unit, Atento, also before the market's traditional summer break in August.
Bankers say Loterías — which has no debt, generates a lot of cash, plans to pay rich dividends and has proved to be a relatively stable business throughout the downturn — will be an easier sell than the other IPOs that are coming to market.
"We've received a lot of interest, from sovereign-wealth funds and from others," Mr. Martínez said.
He said Loterías was unlikely to sell part of a company to another lottery operator, at least during the initial stage.
Once the lead advisers have been chosen, Loterías will select the top banks to manage the IPO, a role that many investment banks prefer because the fees are expected to be much higher than the roughly €600,000 that Loterias will pay its financial adviser.
If successful, the sale of Loterias would be bigger than the 2007 IPO of Iberdrola Renovables SA, which raised €4.5 billion. It would also be almost as large as the 2000 privatization of Swedish telecommunications giant Telia AB — now TeliaSonera AB — which brought in about €8 billion to the Swedish state coffers. Commodities giant Glencore International PLC last week raised $10 billion in London, in Europe's largest IPO to date, and that could increase to $11 billion if an option to sell more shares is exercised.