The Tattersall’s prospectus got a big run today, but the most thoughtful commentary came from Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age, who explored the question of valuing the business when it remains unclear what will happen to its lucrative Victorian gaming licence after it expires in 2012. It’s not a bad deal where you get $598 million in compensation if the licence goes to someone else, which shows what a soft touch the Kennett government was when it came to the gaming industry.

Crikey traipsed all over town trying to get a prospectus yesterday, but after lucking out at Goldman Sachs-JB Were and Macquarie Equities, we finally persuaded the lady at Tattersall’s reception to call on former Labor spinner Michael Mangos, brother of John, to pop downstairs with a press pack so it could be more fully discussed with Virginia Trioli on ABC Melbourne yesterday afternoon.

Tatts will need plenty of Labor arm-twisters on board as the Bracks government is also reviewing its lotteries monopoly which expires in 2007. There will be no listed company on the ASX more reliant on government largesse than Tattersall’s, and the Bracks government really should have been required to reveal a bit more about its thinking in the prospectus as we really are flying blind.

There are plenty of interesting angles in the prospectus, including the relative earnings power of the pokies division compared with the traditional lotteries business. Try these numbers for size:

Financial year Gaming earnings Lotteries earnings
2002 $259.9m $26.6m
2003 $218.0m $28.2m
2004 $209.9m $29.3m
2005 $217.7m $28.9m
2006 $205.5m $23.3m

It has always amazed Crikey how pillars of the business establishment are prepared to associate themselves with gaming companies that pour misery on their customers. Tattersall’s is no exception, given the callibre of the four new directors who were unveiled yesterday.

James King is former boss of Colonial in Asia who also ran CUB for a couple of years. Then you have Brian Jamieson who is currently running the Minter Ellison office in Melbourne and before that was chairman of KPMG in Melbourne. Even a former Rich Lister like Lindsay Cattermole has no problem taking the Tatts coin. The last of the newcomers is Harry Boon, who has recently retired as CEO of Ansell, a company which did a lot of good for society over the years.

Finally, an anonymous tipper writes:

It is my understanding that the story in The Australian and the Herald Sun about Tatts is a little bit wrong. The William Adams who is getting the $80 million dollars worth of shares is actually old Bill Adams. Of course he too is William. He is about 93, lives at Wahroonga, and has three children. Susan Walsh is married to Richard Walsh, who is part of an old established Adelaide family (they have the Walsh building), Caroline is married to farmer Archie Kennedy, and William. William is the youngest and is a qualified architect who doesn’t practise. Old Bill has a house in Pacific Road at Palm Beach, a farm at Mulally, west of Gunnedah, plus the Wahroonga house, so we are talking real estate assets of at least $20 million. Young William will get up to $25 million for being a trustee and his sisters are spitting chips about this.