Arena Leisure confirms possible bid for the company

X The Business Desk

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RACECOURSE operator Arena Leisure – which owns the courses at Wolverhampton and Worcester – could be put on the market after it confirmed it was looking to increase value for shareholders.

Press stories today suggested the company, which also operates Lingfield Park and Doncaster racecourses, was understood to be considering its options after a report from its adviser Investec concluded the business should be offered to potential buyers.

Shares prices leapt when news of the possible sale broke.

In a statement responding to the speculation, the company said:  “The board of Arena Leisure notes the press speculation concerning the company and the movement in its share price.

“The company confirms that it is reviewing possible options to increase value for its shareholders, which may include a possible offer for the company.

“This review has only just commenced and there is no certainty that the review will result in any change to the company or an offer being made for the company.”

The press speculation suggested that the billionaire Reuben brothers could use their stake in the company, which is worth almost 30%, to launch a possible bid.

In a trading update last month, Arena said attendances at race meetings were up, but income continued to be affected by the economic downturn.

Since January it said it had seen a 17% growth in attendances, and had emerged largely unscathed from the bad weather earlier in the year, with only one meeting cancelled.

However, the reduced levy income continued to bite, as well as the impact of fewer horses running in each race, which was denting revenues.

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