Another bidder has emerged for the UK racecourse group Arena Leisure as Satellite Information Services (SIS) looks at making a bid. Reports in this weekend’s Sunday Times point to the specialist broadcaster making a substantial bid for the firm of up to £200million. Arena announced in June that they were looking at selling some of their courses after alluding to an uncertain future due to reduced levy yields and gaming industry firms moving offshore. Their ownership of seven all-weather courses will mean that any sale will be lucrative. SIS is the second bidder thought to hold an interest and already have a five-year broadcast deal with Arena worth £106m over the full term.
Arena themselves had something to cheer today as they revealed a 33,000 rise in spectators that attended races in the past six months. Of the 189 fixtures that were held over the year to June there was an average attendance of 1,667 at each race – an increase of 11.3%. The good news didn’t last for long though as they confirmed that a reduced levy yield impacted their profits to the tune of £600,000. Profits stood at £1.4m but the company’s chairman David Thorpe was still encouraged by their progress.
“The Government is in consultation on a reform of the Levy scheme and we are encouraged by its recent statements on licensing and taxation of off-shore gaming,” he told This Is Money.
“We believe that the nature of Arena’s racecourse estate, in particular the all-weather assets, will be advantageous in the event of a Levy replacement that is predicated on a commercial relationship with bookmakers.”
Any sale will require government approval and it will be an exciting few months for Arena as they await any outcome.