- Continuity of operations assured thanks to efforts brought to bear across the Group. To date, nearly 80% of FDJ’s points of sale authorised to remain open in the context of French State authorisations given to tobacconists and newsagents. The Group is committed to working alongside its retailers to help them enforce health precautions.
- Strong financial position, with a large amount of cash available in the short term.
- For financial year 2020, sports betting will be significantly affected by competition cancellations; slowdown in lottery activity due to French government measures and the company's decision to suspend sales for the “Amigo” game.
- Global and significant action plan already under way to limit the impact of the decline in activity on the Group’s profitability.
- To ensure high attendance by its new shareholders, FDJ is postponing the General Meeting initially to be held on 22 April 2020 to 18 June 2020 and the payment date for the dividend of €122 million to 30 June 2020.
Boulogne-Billancourt (France), 20 March 2020 (7:00 a.m.) - La Française des Jeux (FDJ), the national lottery and leading gaming operator in France, today issues an initial estimate of the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic on its business.
Estimated impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on FDJ’s business
At mid-March, stakes recorded for FDJ were in line with the Group’s annual targets.
In response to the public health crisis due to the Covid-19 epidemic, FDJ activated its business continuity plan from mid-February. The aim is to ensure the safest and best possible working conditions for its employees, the vast majority of whom are now working from home, and the continuity of its operations, in particular with regard to its information systems and its supply chain.
This plan was strengthened in response to the exceptional measures taken by national and international authorities to contain the spread of Covid-19, such as the closure of most retail businesses and restrictions on movement by people in France, as well as the postponement or cancellation of many national and international sporting events. Although nearly 80% of FDJ’s points of sale (mainly newsagents and tobacconists) are authorised to remain open to the public, these measures will have consequences for the Group’s business, which are difficult to evaluate precisely at present.
For lottery operations (about 80% of the company’s business in 2019):
- “Amigo” game sales have been suspended as a precautionary measure, to avoid people grouping in front of the screens at the point of sale. The estimated monthly impact of this decision is about €17 million on revenue and nearly €10 million on EBITDA;
- Customer numbers at the points of sale remaining open are expected to decline, given the confinement measures announced by the French government. In this context, and by way of example, FDJ estimates that a decline in stakes (excluding “Amigo”) of approximately 50% would result in a monthly impact on revenue of close to €55 million, and on EBITDA of about €17 million, before any new cost-saving measures;
- FDJ continues to post good results for its online lottery games.
For sports betting (about 20% of the company’s business in 2019):
- Cancellations of many sporting events, including UEFA Euro 2020, most other upcoming championships, particularly for football and basketball, and all tennis tournaments, the French Open among them, are expected to result in a very strong decline in stakes over the first half of the year. However, the postponement of some of these events to the second half of 2020, such as the football championships and the French Open, and even to 2021 for UEFA Euro 2020, is still a possibility;
- On this basis, for sports betting, FDJ anticipates a loss of about €120 million in revenue and approximately €50 million in EBITDA for financial year 2020, without taking into account the possible postponement of tournaments and competitions, as opposed to their cancellation, and before any new cost-saving measures.
Measures under way to limit the impact on profitability and a strong financial position
FDJ has already taken a certain number of measures to limit the effects of the crisis on its profitability. Furthermore, the Group is working to achieve additional reductions in its cost base and to allow for the return to full operations under the best possible conditions as soon as circumstances permit.
Lastly, FDJ’s financial position is extremely sound and provides assurances as to the liquidity enjoyed by the Group, which has sufficient cash available in the short term to deal with the situation.
Stéphane Pallez, Chairwoman and CEO of FDJ, commented as follows: “Today we are facing an unprecedented and exceptional situation that requires the mobilization of everyone and will weigh on our business for an indefinite period. In that respect, the FDJ Group has very quickly organised itself to face this unprecedented health crisis in a responsible manner and limit the consequences on its employees, customers, retailers and shareholders, thanks to its resilience, responsiveness and the commitment of everyone at FDJ.”
Our priority is to remind our employees, customers and retailers that they need to scrupulously comply with all public health instructions to contain the spread of the virus. We also stand ready to assist our retailers in enforcing the recommended hygiene practices every day to protect against infection, for their own safety as well as that of their customers.
The Group will make use of all its communications channels (cash register readouts, televised lottery draws, websites and applications, social media) to help keep everyone informed during this unprecedented public health crisis.
For its part, the FDJ Corporate Foundation has decided to respond to the call from Secours populaire français with a €200,000 donation. This charitable organisation has an urgent need to maintain the assistance it provides to the most vulnerable, in particular by delivering daily necessities to the elderly in their homes.
Next Group financial communication
Given the changing nature of the situation, the estimates and expectations presented by FDJ cannot constitute neither a forecast nor an objective. The Group will provide a further update no later than the publication of its first-quarter stakes and revenue on April 21, after the market close, and will communicate its new 2020 guidance as soon as possible.
General Meeting to be held on 18 June 2020 and dividend payment date of 30 June 2020
Due to the fact that it would be impossible, under the current circumstances, to hold the Group’s first General Meeting post IPO as scheduled on 22 April and ensure high attendance by FDJ’s new individual shareholders, the Meeting is now postponed to 18 June. For this reason, the payment date for the dividend of €0.64 per share, initially planned for 6 May, is rescheduled to 30 June.