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19th of January 2018

Economy



Ardent Leisure sells bowling alleys for $160m

Ardent Leisure has divested the last of its non-core assets, being the bowling and entertainment centres for $160 million to the Entertainment and Education Group, owned by private equity Quandrant and the Steinberg Family.

Proceeds will be funnelled to the remaining operations of Main Event in the US and the Dreamworld theme parks on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Ardent Leisure has entered into a binding agreement to sell its Bowling & Entertainment division for $160 million to ... Ardent Leisure has entered into a binding agreement to sell its Bowling & Entertainment division for $160 million to TheEntertainment and Education Group. Photo: supplied

Ardent has now sold all of what it considered non-core assets, being its Goodlife healthclubs and d'Albora marinas and the AMF bowling and entertainment centres.

The sales were part of the proposals forwarded by the new chairman Dr Gary Weiss and his Ariadne Australia group, during its campaign this year to get board representation at Ardent, to ''restore shareholder value'' to investors.

Following that campaign, Dr Weiss and his fellow Ariadne director Brad Richmond gained the board seats and are now implementing their proposals.

The year also saw the departure of two chief executives, Deborah Thomas and latterly Simon Kelly, who was there for only five months. There is a search underway for a new Australian-based chief executive.

At the Ardent annual shareholder meeting in November, Dr Weiss vowed to unlock value at the Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast as part of his greater plan to get the company "back on track".

He said the new board was working "collaboratively and collectively" to return shareholder value by improving the two business divisions of entertainment and bowling in Australia and the Main Event centres in North America.

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''We are now looking at a range of options for our two businesses in the US and at Dreamworld to enhance shareholder returns,'' Dr Weiss said.

''At Dreamworld we are well unber way in the review of the surplus land at Dreamworld. There is significant development potential but we are not rushing into anything.''

Dr Weiss said it was an ''unsolicited offer from TEEG'' and the decision to divest the bowling division ''reflects the attractive price offered and our focus on investing capital in area where we can earn the most attractive rerturns''.

''While we are confident that the strategy for bowling and entertainment will deliver improved earnings, this ssle relieves Ardent of the requirement to make significant further investment needed to support this strategy and provides Ardent with increased flexibility to contunue the expansoion of Main Event and the reinvigoration of the theme parks,'' Dr Weiss said.

He said there is potential for significant earnings growth in the Main Event and theme parks.

''In Main Event we are progressing the seach for a chief executive and have introduced relevant sector experience at board level,'' Dr Weiss said.

''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.''

Dr Weiss said the goal for the theme parks is to ''reinvigorate customer attendance through the introduction of new attractions and further expanding strategic partnerships, as well as continuing to explore opportunities to develop the surplus land.''

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