|REEF CASINO TRUST POSTS BEST-EVER FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Reef Hotel Casino trades 17% above budget and 27% above same period last year
In a remarkable turnaround, the Reef Casino Trust has announced a AUD$6.8 million net profit (after tax) for the year 2000.
At the AGM of the Reef Casino Trust, held in Cairns today, it was announced that the Trust had posted a AUD$4 million profit for the second-half of 2000, following a AUD$2.8 million profit in the first-half.
Reef Casino Trust is a single purpose trust that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Its main asset is the Reef Hotel Casino complex in Cairns, Queensland, which comprises the Reef Casino, the 5-star 128 suite Sofitel Reef Casino, a conference centre, conservatory, night club and various restaurants and bars.
In late-1999, a recapitalisation program was initiated by the new joint-venture partnership of Casinos Austria and Accor, Australia's largest hotel group and part of the global Accor hotel and tourism company.
As a result of the performance in 2000, the Trust has been able to make its first-ever distributions to unitholders. In September 2000, the distribution totalled AUD$2.5 million (representing 0.25 cents per unit) and in March 2001 this was increased to AUD$3 million (0.3 cents per share). A total of AUD$5.5 million (0.55 cents per share) was distributed out of 2000 profits. The distributions are tax-free.
The turnaround was based on strong results in the second half of 2000, and efficiencies brought about by the installation of the new joint-venture partners. The positive trend has continued into 2001, with the Reef Hotel Casino trading 17% above budget and 27% above the same period in 2000 for the first four months of 2001. A third distribution payment is expected in relation to the profits in the first half of 2001.
A number of initiatives have been introduced to improve the performance of the complex. New restaurant facilities, an upgrade of all rooms and suites in the Sofitel, and greater emphasis on loyalty programmes such as the Reef Club and Accor's Advantage Plus scheme have attracted both new patrons and greater visitation from existing patrons.
The Trust has committed to further capital investments in state-of-the-art electronic gaming machines, though Chairman, Ben Macdonald, emphasised "Table games or live gaming is the traditional format in casinos. We are encouraged by the increased activity in this area following a re-focus on the premium player program last year. We welcome patrons at the lower end of the 'high rollers' market drawn from both domestic markets and selected overseas ones."
The Chairman also highlighted the role of Sofitel in the complex's successful year: "Our accommodation, conference and food and beverage services play an integral role in the overall success of the complex's bottom-line as they are significant drivers of increased visitation and patronage."
Since 23 November 1999, Accor has been operating the hotel in the casino complex as the Sofitel Reef Casino under a franchise arrangement. However, with the Queensland Government's granting of probity to Accor, Casinos Austria and Accor will now jointly own the management company that will operate the entire Reef Hotel Casino complex.
With probity finalised, Accor will nominate two new
directors to the board of the Reef Casino Trust. They are Michael Issenberg
(Managing Director Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Japan) and
Kim Mooney (General Manager Finance Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific
For further information:
Allan Tan - Reef Casino Trust +61 7 3370 3100
Peter Hook - Accor Asia Pacific +61 2 9367 0860