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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  05 Feb 2010

GAMBLING: Grand Parade Pulls A Trick

 



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CAPE TOWN empowerment company Grand Parade Investments (GPI) looks set to cast off its ‘passive gaming investor’ tag after making a brave swoop into the limited payout machine (LPM) market.

LPMs are the slot machines that are found in pubs and restaurants. These machines, known as ‘pokies’ in Australia, take a R5 bet and have a maximum payout of R500.

While these machines cannot spin the kind of profits generated by urban casinos, the LPM layout is distinctly less capital intensive. This means after the roll-out phase the operator pretty much sits back and watches the cash roll in.

In any event GPI’s big move came recently when it forked out R170 million to buy Australian gaming giant Tatts out of Thuo Gaming, the operator of the GrandSlots LPM business.

GPI always had a minority stake in Thuo’s Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal operations, and clearly developed a liking to the business.

GPI’s other investments are strategic minority stakes in SunWest (the operator of the GrandWest casino in Cape Town), the Worcester casino and Real Africa Holdings (which in turn holds minority stakes in Sun International’s four main casinos).

The difference with Thuo is that GPI has full control of the business (the remaining stake in owned by individuals associated with GPI, and it seems likely 100% ownership will revert to GPI sooner rather than later).

In essence the LPM investment gives GPI an operational focus, something, CBN believes, could be enhanced with further investments in other LPMs, internet gaming and perhaps even Electronic Bingo Terminals (which pundits believe could be the next big thing in gaming).

GPI chairman Hassen Adams says the Thuo deal is about the company maintaining its growth trajectory – but with increased control.

The deal represents an important milestone in achieving our vision of becoming a respected and major force in the African gaming and leisure sector. I am hugely excited by this opportunity, as the domain of gaming operators has always been an exclusive club.”

He explains that by becoming more operationally oriented, GPI remains true to its core values of transformation and empowerment.

This opportunity represents a natural progression towards our long held ambition of being a black empowerment company with more direct control of our destiny, especially now that we are able to manage and operate our own business.”

At the moment – at least according to GPI’s annual report – it is only Thuo Western Cape that is generating cash.

GPI CEO Adrian Funkey says the company is confident that Thuo Kwazulu-Natal will follow suite once its site roll out programme reaches critical mass.

Thuo WC and Thuo KZN are both established operators and are licensed to run 1 000 LPMs in their respective provinces.

Of course, some sceptics may doubt whether GPI has the specialist skills to operate a LPM business successfully.

But Funkey says GPI understands Thuo’s business model very well. “We have been intimately involved in the development of the business since inception. We are confident that we will be able to continue to grow it into the future.”


 
 
 
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