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BGH Capital confirmed as Village Roadshow’s new owners
The takeover of Village Roadshow by private equity group BGH Capital is set to be confirmed by shareholders following the Village Roadshow board having recommended the sale at $3 a share.
The deal will see control of the firm, founded in 1954 with the opening of a drive-in cinema, move from the Kirby family to the Melbourne-based equity fund.
The BGH shareholding structure for the vehicle that will own the cinema and theme park company includes separate shareholdings for John and Robert Kirby with Robert Kirby and former Chief Executive Graham Burke as co-Chairmen of the business.
Robert Kirby’s son Clark Kirby will remain as Chief Executive.
This structure means that BGH Capital co-founders Ben Gray, Robin Bishop and Simon Harle will benefit from the valuable corporate memory and networks of the Kirby family and Burke.
BGH Capital first looked at acquiring Village Roadshow in January, reportedly offering $4 a share, valuing the business at more than $770 million. The offer came at a time when the company was recording positive growth and a stated intention to reduce its debt.
However, the impact of COVID-19 has hit the company with its theme parks closed for several months and cinema operations only now starting to welcome back moviegoers.
The company has also had to draw down $70 million on its debt facility in order to get through the period of closures.
Throughout the takeover period animal rights group World Animal Protection has campaigned against captive dolphin breeding at Village Roadshow’s Sea World property on the Gold Coast.
With BGH Capital’s takeover confirmed, World Animal Protection Head of Campaigns, Ben Pearson stated “World Animal Protection are calling on BGH Capital to implement a captive breeding ban at Sea World so we can make this the last generation of dolphins bred to suffer in captivity.
“Breeding more dolphins that can live up to 50 years is unjustifiable given the cruelty involved and the declining social acceptability of dolphin captivity.
“The future profitability of Sea World lies in rides and non-animal attractions. They don’t need to breed more dolphins into a lifetime of lockdown.
“Village Roadshow have turned down genuine discussion with us on this issue, so we look forward to seeing if BGH Capital will be more open to hearing our solutions.”
Last month World Animal Protection had a giant billboard erected outside BGH Capital’s offices in Melbourne. However, the billboard was pulled down after only four days.
World Animal Protection along with other animal welfare organisations, including World Cetacean Alliance and Action for Dolphins, have publicly campaigned for a ban on captive dolphin breeding in Australia for years.
Sea World is the only venue in Australia where captive breeding still takes place.
Images: The DC Rivals HyperCoaster at Warner Bros. Movie World (top) and World Animal Protection's billboard on Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street prior to its removal last month (below).
8th December 2020 - Village Roadshow reveals new imagery for Sea World’s New Atlantis Precinct
27th November 2020 - Village Roadshow leads Queensland tourism operators in advertising summer positions
20th November 2020 - World Animal Protection billboard removed from Melbourne’s Lonsdale Street
13th October 2020 - Takeover offer for Village Roadshow ‘fair and reasonable’
17th August 2020 - Village Roadshow moves toward acquisition by private equity firm
12th May 2020 - Village Roadshow Chief Executive calls for JobKeeper extension as Queensland Government’s Coronavirus easing roadmap suggests reopening of theme parks, entertainment venues and stadiums in June
6th April 2020 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks backs staff during lockdown
24th January 2020 - Private equity group BGH Capital submits rival bid for Village Roadshow
23rd December 2019 - Sea World hit with new protests over dolphin care
20th December 2019 - Private equity firm makes $750 million offer for Village Roadshow
17th December 2019 - Sea World Helicopters opens new multi-million-dollar terminal
15th October 2019 - Village Roadshow reveals profit turnaround in last financial year
11th September 2019 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks reveal schedule for opening of new Sea World attractions
20th September 2018 - Movie World launches new climb attraction on Southern Hemisphere’s tallest HyperCoaster
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