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Arena jumps ahead

By BFN News | 07:12 AM | Monday 12 March, 2012

Racecourse operator Arena Leisure said profit before tax increased by 14.6% to £4.2m in the year to end-December (2010: £3.6m) after record attendances. Profit before interest and tax increased by 7.1% to £5.8m (2010: £5.4m). Revenue was down £2.5m to £61.5m (2010: £64.0m) after a £7.3m reduction in centrally collected and allocated funding from the Levy. Earnings per share increased by 12.7% to 1.15p (2010: 1.02p). In accordance with the terms of the offer from Aldersgate, no final dividend is proposed (2010: 0.38p per share). Net borrowings were reduced by £9.3m to £30.5m in 2011 (2010: £39.8m). Arena reported record total attendances at the Group's racecourses of 683,000, representing a 7.8% increase (2010: 634,000). Average attendance per fixture also increased by 7.8% to a record 1,941 (2010: 1,800) ahead of the market average growth of 1.0%. Hospitality attendance increased by 14% to 51,500 (2010: 45,200). 352 fixtures were staged in the year representing 24% of UK racing fixtures (2010: 352 fixtures, 25%). Combined admission and catering incomes increased by 14% to £23.4m (2010: £20.5m). Arena's share of post tax profits of At The Races increased by £1.5m to £2.9m (2010: £1.4m) of which £0.8m relates to the prior years' entitlement to preference distributions. 345 fixtures have been secured for 2012 (2011: 352 staged, 353 scheduled). The estimated yield for the Levy in 2012/13 is £72.4m (2011/12: £71.4m) providing a stable funding level for 2012. On 1st January 2012, the five-year media rights agreement with SIS commenced, which will provide an estimated annual uplift in income of £10m. Arena is contracted to provide catering services to two Olympic and Paralympic venues in 2012, with an estimated net profit contribution of £0.5m to £1.0m. Following a strategic review by the Board, a recommended cash offer was announced by Aldersgate Investments Limited to acquire the Company for 44.25p per share on 13th January 2012. Subject to OFT and Court approval, the Board expects completion on 30th March 2012. Mark Elliott, CEO, commented: "This has been another year of progress in which the Group has continued its track record of operational outperformance in spite of the difficult trading environment and ongoing Levy challenges. Arena continues to demonstrate industry-leading growth with record attendances at its racecourses and growth in both hospitality and catering revenue. "Looking ahead, 2012 sees the commencement of our five year media rights agreement with SIS which significantly enhances the Group's income. We intend to maximise the opportunity provided by our catering service contract at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and to extend our in-house catering services to other third party venues and events. "The Offer from Aldersgate Investments represents a fair and reasonable opportunity for shareholders to realise value that would not otherwise be available in the current market." Story provided by

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