Branson plots Camelot deal

SIR Richard Branson will enter the running to take over National Lottery operator Camelot in a &ldquo;people&rsquo;s lottery&rdquo; run separately from his Virgin group, CityA.M. can confirm.<br /><br />Sources close to Branson said that the tycoon, who has made two previous attempts to take over the lottery, would be interested in making a bid, but was still waiting to see a sales prospectus from Greenhill and Rothschild, who are managing the sale on behalf of the shareholders.<br /><br />If the high-profile tycoon does join the fray, it would not be under the Virgin umbrella, the source said, but as a not-for-profit venture, or &ldquo;people&rsquo;s lottery&rdquo;.<br /><br />He is understood to have approached several charities to sound them out about a partnership to take over one of four 20 per cent stakes in Camelot that have become available.<br /><br />Thales, Fujitsu, Cadbury and De La Rue have all put stakes up for sale, although Royal Mail has said it will hold on to its remaining 20 per cent.<br /><br />Any shareholder acquiring more than 29.9 per cent of Camelot must make an offer for the whole company and any successful bid needs to be approved by the Lottery Commission.<br /><br />Each stake is valued at around &pound;80m, for a business which makes an annual profit of around &pound;30m.