Hard Rock sold to American tribe for $965mn

The Rank Group in the UK has reached an agreement with the Seminole
Tribe of Florida, to sell the Hard Rock business for US$965 million (£490 million).Seminole already owns hotels, casinos and holidays resorts in Florida. However, by buying the Hard Rock Cafe business it becomes the owner of one of the best-known international restaurant brands and the proprietor of more than 120 outlets in 40 countries.

The first Hard Rock Cafe, which was opened in London in 1971, will remain the property of Rank however, the British gaming and leisure group said.

Following the completion of this transaction, Rank intends to
return £350 million (equivalent to approximately 65p per share) to shareholders
through payment of a special dividend, and to effect a share consolidation.

Commenting on the Disposal, Ian Burke, chief executive of Rank said:

‘Today’s announcement sets a clear strategic course for Rank as a focused gaming
business. We have maximised the value of Hard Rock through this disposal
following a thorough strategic review and competitive auction. We intend to
return £350 million of the proceeds to shareholders, reflecting the ongoing
capital requirements of the Group. This will bring the total amount returned to
shareholders since March 2006 to £625 million, including dividend payments.


‘We have established clear plans to capitalise on the changes taking place in UK
gaming in order to generate sustained growth in profits and improvements in our
return on capital employed. In spite of a number of near-term challenges, we
believe that our considerable operating experience and our strong portfolio of
gaming assets will enable us to take advantage of the long-term growth in the
gaming market.

‘In recent months we have made progress on the key strategic objectives that we
highlighted at the time of our interim results: completing the review of Hard
Rock, exiting non-core businesses, restructuring our balance sheet, generating
overhead and operating efficiencies and driving operational improvements from
our gaming businesses. We believe that this strategy is in the best interests of
our shareholders.’