Greece gets two bids for stake in betting monopoly OPAP

ATHENS (Reuters) - Two groups have made bids for a 33 percent stake in Greece's betting monopoly OPAP <OPAr.AT>, the first big privatisation under the country's bailout plan, a senior source close to the sale told Reuters on Wednesday after a deadline expired.

The bidders are U.S. hedge fund Third Point and a group including Czech investor Jiri Smecj, Greek shipowner George Melisanidis and Greek businessman Dimitris Copelouzos, the official who declined to be named, said.

"We are closing with those two bids," the official said. It remained unclear if Third Point has bid alone or with partners.

State-run OPAP, the most profitable firm on the Athens bourse, is a test case for Greece's ambitious privatisation programme, a key element in its 240-billion euro EU/IMF bailout.

A 33 percent stake in OPAP is worth about 730 million euros (624.5 million pounds), based on the company's market value on the Athens bourse.

Initially, eight groups of investors, including Israel's Playtech <PTEC.L>, Chinese conglomerate Fosun <0656.HK> and private equity firm BC Partners, had expressed interest in the sell-off.

OPAP was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and Harry Papachristou. Editing by Jane Merriman)