Praesepe to manage Agora estate

02/03/2011

Praesepe plc has cemented it’s position as the UK’s fastest growing and largest Adult Gaming Centre (AGC) operator having completed a contract with holding company Baleday Limited to manage the Agora Gaming Group’s estate of 75 operating AGCs.  The exclusive management contract, which has been signed for an initial 12-month period, includes an option for Praesepe to acquire 100% of the Agora estate at a date to be agreed during the period between 25 May 2011 and 24 February 2012.

The agreement increases Praesepe’s total UK venues under management from 96 to 171 High Street gaming venues, four Family Entertainment Centres, six Bingo Clubs and an on-line bingo web site.  Included in the estate are the iconic Crystal Rooms in London’s  Leicester Square and the Beacon Bingo Club in Cricklewood, the largest bingo club in the UK. The company now has an estate of over 7,000 gaming machines.

The announcement is in line with Praesepe’s stated strategy to consolidate the Low Stake High Volume gaming market in the UK and Europe and to build a diversified gaming group including gaming machines, bingo and sports book/pool betting operations.

Nick Harding, CEO of Praesepe said: “The Agora sites are an excellent development opportunity for Praesepe.  They are mainly in the south of England, geographically complementing our nationwide network of Cashino venues, and occupy some excellent positions in major retail centres.

“Taking management control of the Agora venues reflects our ability to successfully manage High Street venues and to deliver improved returns. There is considerable scope for these sites to generate further economies of scale and we can also expect the anticipated deregulation of Category B3 gaming machines, together with the roll out of our new Bingo Express product, to have a further positive impact on the business and the potential for future revenue growth.

“The management contract provides us with an important opportunity to assess Agora’s operating performance before proceeding to any acquisition. We look forward to finalizing the option agreement that will give us the opportunity to acquire Agora in the coming months.  We believe that a full acquisition would allow us to fully integrate the two businesses and generate value for Praesepe’s shareholders.”

Praesepe confirmed that trading has been encouraging since the year end despite the VAT increase.  Whilst the adverse weather conditions during November and December 2010 impacted trading, the Directors remain confident that the financial results for the 52 week period ended 26 December 2010 will not be materially below market expectations.  The Company will release its results for the 52 weeks ended 26 December 2010 on 27 April 2011.

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