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Investment trust acquires games firm

Caledonia unveils £241m swoop on Gala Bingo chain

Gala BingoBritain’s biggest bingo clubs operator has been acquired by Caledonia Investments in a £241 million deal.

Caledonia has agreed terms to take control of Gala Bingo from Gala Coral which is in the process of merging with Ladbrokes.

Caledonia will take ownership of more than 130 bingo clubs owned by Gala which has 1.1 million active members and a market share of 38%.

Gala Bingo reported EBITDA of £52.7 million for the year to the end of September and profit before tax of £33m and had gross assets at that date of £189.6m.

Simon Wykes, Gala Bingo’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured Caledonia’s backing in the next phase of Gala Bingo’s development. We believe that Caledonia’s longer term, supportive investment model will give Gala Bingo the stable platform from which we can continue to develop our market leading business.”

Duncan Johnson, Caledonia’s head of unquoted investments, said: “Gala Bingo is well known to Caledonia’s Unquoted Investments team and we are delighted to be backing Simon Wykes and his team in the next chapter of its history.

“Its defensive, enduring business model, which delivers strong cash generation and dividend yield, fit ideally with the investment criteria sought by Caledonia for its unquoted portfolio and complements our other assets in the Unquoted pool.  As with our other unquoted investments, Gala Bingo will pay an attractive yield from inception.”

Bingo has enjoyed a surprise revival in popularity against the rise of digital games.

Caledonia traces its roots to the shipping empire established by Sir Charles Cayzer in 1878, and is now a listed investment trust which manages a portfolio of international quoted, unquoted and fund investments.

Caledonia’s largest unquoted holdings include Seven Investment Management, an asset manager.

It also owns significant stakes in AG Barr, the soft drinks manufacturer, and Close Brothers, the financial services group.

 

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