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European lottery group Allwyn and SPAC call off deal

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European lottery group Allwyn Entertainment and the blank-check company that would have seen its shares list in New York said on Friday they decided to cancel their deal, citing volatile market conditions.

Allwyn struck a merger deal with the blank-check firm Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp in January, putting the combined firm’s enterprise value at about $9.3 billion at that time.

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Investor appetite for these blank-check firms, also called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), has cooled over the past year due to tougher regulations, rising interest rates and a downturn in public market valuations.

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Allwyn and Cohn Robbins’ announcement comes the same day as the SPAC backed by private equity firm TPG Inc decided to wind down its operations, also citing market volatility.

In a statement, Allwyn said it remained committed to listing its shares and expanding its business into the U.S., but said it will wait for more favorable conditions.

Allwyn, known as Sazka Entertainment until last year, operates lotteries in the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Greece and Cyprus.

Cohn Robbins, set up by Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser to former U.S. President Donald Trump, and investor Clifton Robbins, raised $828 million from investors in September 2020.

In a statement, Gary Cohn and Clifton Robbins noted that their partnership with Allwyn was announced in January, but that “a pronounced negative turn in market psychology” has been seen since then.

While praising the leadership of Allwyn, they said, “Nevertheless, the persistently volatile and negative market conditions have led to our mutual decision with Allwyn not to proceed in completing the transaction.” (Reporting by Rhea Binoy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

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