Ardent Leisure is selling its bowling centres to private equity for $160 million

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil outside Dreamworld on October 28, 2016. Photo: Glenn Hunt/ Getty Images.

Theme park operator Ardent Leisure is selling its Bowling and Entertainment division for $160 million.

It’s being rolled into The Entertainment and Education Group, which recently acquired the assets of the arcade business Timezone and is jointly owned by funds advised by Quadrant Private Equity and the Steinberg family, founders of Timezone.

In early trade, Ardent shares were up 5.3% to $1.82.

Gary Weiss, chairman of Ardent, says the deal gives the company increased flexibility to continue the expansion of Main Event entertainment centres in the US and the reinvigoration of its theme parks.

“This sale relieves Ardent of the requirement to make the significant further investment,” he says.

Ardent posted a net loss after tax of $62.6 million in 2017, significantly impacted by the Dreamworld ride tragedy on the Gold Coast when four people died in a ride accident.

The deal for the sale of a portfolio of AMF Bowling Centres, Kingpin bowling lounges and Playtime arcades across Australasia is expected to close in the first half of 2018.

“There is potential for significant earnings growth in both Main Event and Theme Parks,” says Weiss.

“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.”

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