Arena profits up after media deals

ARENA Leisure – the UK’s biggest racecourse operator – has seen pre-tax profit rise three per cent to £4.1m.

The group received a boost from a new media rights deal and £55m of new banking facilities arranged with Lloyds Banking Group.

Revenues jumped to £65.2m, up from £64.8m in the year to 31 December.

Pre-tax profits hit £4.1m, compared to £4m while earnings per share rose three per cent to 1.16p over the period. The company restored the dividend ion the strength of the results.

Arena staged 370 fixtures in 2009, which represented 26 per cent of all UK racing fixtures.

Meanwhile attendances rose two per cent to 639,000 while there was a rise in income from media rights.

It signed a contract with SIS to provide content to UK and Irish bettingshops over a five year period from 2012 worth an estimated total value of £106m. That was almost twice the amount for the previous deal.

It said £12.5m was received on signing as part of a total of £32m of advanced payments.

However, revenue form corporate hospitality plunged as bankers and construction industry chiefs hit by the global financial crisis cut back.

Mark Elliott, chief executive of Arena, said: “Arena has delivered another robust operational performance this year. We are proud of this achievement in what remains a challenging consumer market.

“We are encouraged that the broad appeal of racing continues to underpin Arena’s resilient performance in spite of the continued unpredictable economic environment and we remain optimistic of another good year of development in 2010.”