Belgium lottery chief criticised for privatisation remarks

Jannie Haek, Chief Executive of Belgium’s national lottery operator ‘Loterie Nationale’, has been criticised for commenting on the potential privatisation of a state-owned asset.

Belgium media had questioned Haek on whether the Loterie would replicate the privatisation of French gambling operator Française des Jeux (FDJ), which grabbed international business headlines by becoming one of Europe’s most successful IPOs in 2019.

Offering his personal opinion, Haek stated that a ‘part-privatisation’ of Belgium’s national lottery mirroring FDJ movements could be a ‘beautiful opportunity for Belgian investors’.

Haek’s comment would be criticised by outgoing Belgium Deputy PM Alexander De Croo of the liberal Open VLD party, who reminded Loterie’s CEO that he was in charge of a government asset and not a private enterprise.

“Loterie’s CEO can wish it, but we, the Government, are the owners,” De Croo stated to the Council of Ministers as Belgium’s government prepares to reform, transitioning into an interim government led by Sophie Wilmes as ‘acting premier’.

Belgium’s general elections, held in May 2019, left the country in political limbo with no decisive vote and an absence of cross-party willingness to form a coalition governing its three regions.

De Croo maintains that the privatisation of Loterie should remain low on the list of Belgian political priorities and treated as a ‘non-urgent matter’.

Further criticism was drawn by Kurt Sissau, the leader of the Flemish ACOD public services union, who stated his concerns at Haek’s comment as Loterie employees had been promised that privatisation ‘was not on the agenda’ following FDJ’s public offering.

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