Ardent Leisure to focus on theme park business after selling bowling division
Dreamworld theme park operator Ardent Leisure has agreed to sell its bowling and entertainment (B&E) arm to The Entertainment and Education Group for $160mn.
Ardent runs numerous Playtime arcades and AMF and Kingpin Bowling centres around the country and is selling up so it can concentrate on its core business of theme parks, which also include SkyPoint and WhiteWater World.
Gary Weiss, Chairman of Ardent, said: “While we are confident that the strategy for B&E will deliver improved earnings, this sale relieves Ardent of the requirement to make the significant further investment needed to support this strategy and provides Ardent with increased flexibility to continue the expansion of Main Event and the reinvigoration of Theme Parks.”
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Completion of the transaction is expected to occur in the first half of 2018 and remains subject to obtaining landlord consents under certain material leases and the consent of Ardent’s lenders.
Ardent has been diversifying its entertainment centres into multi-entertainment venues that offer more than bowling, and the company says this sale will deliver a quickfire return on that investment.
It will still develop its Main Event Entertainment centres, as Weiss explained: “There is potential for significant earnings growth in both Main Event and Theme Parks. In Main Event, we are progressing the search for a CEO and have introduced relevant sector experience at Board level. With additional financial flexibility, we will be in a good position to focus on driving constant centre revenue growth and accelerating our roll-out of Main Event Entertainment centres.
"In Theme Parks our goal is to reinvigorate customer attendance through the introduction of new attractions and further expanding our strategic partnerships, as well as continuing to explore opportunities to develop our surplus land.”
Ardent is seeking to restore its reputation after the death of four visitors to its theme park on the Gold Coast last year.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.