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Theme parks to reopen next month after $140m bail-out by govt, lenders

Business

Gold Coast theme parks have been granted a $140 million lifeline from the Queensland Government and other lenders to help deal with the impacts of COVID-19.

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Dreamworld owner Ardent Leisure Group Limited said it’s struck a deal with the Queensland Government for a $70 million financing package which included a secured loan of $66.9 million (which includes capitalised interest and fees) and a grant of $3 million which can be used to fund working capital and approved capital expenditure.

In a joint statement, Ardent Leisure chairman Gary Weiss and the chief executive of theme parks John Osborne said the deal was in recognition of the important role that the theme park industry played in the economic development of Queensland and the broader tourism industry in Australia.

“The Queensland Government’s foresight in providing this financial assistance package will enable Ardent to reopen its iconic theme parks, continue to employ hundreds of people and, once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, continue to invest in future tourism infrastructure and create more local jobs,”  they said.

They said the loan would allow them to re-open Dreamworld and Whitewater World by mid-September 2020.

COVID Safe Plans for both Dreamworld and WhiteWater World have been approved by Queensland Health enabling the parks to reopen with 50 per cent of historical capacity, subject to adhering to various COVID-related health directives.

Village Roadshow, which owns Movie World and Sea World said it had access to $70 million from existing lenders and the Queensland Government. It expected the funds to be utilised to fund its operating and capital expenditure requirements.

“Village Roadshow expects this additional debt facility will be sufficient for the company to fund its cash needs for the next 12 months,” it said.

It said $43 million of the new facility was a short-term facility of 12 months with the balance having a five-year term.

As part of securing the new facilities, Village had given an undertaking to raise a minimum of $35 million through new shareholder equity or equity-like instruments.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the theme parks employed thousands of Queenslanders, and were an important tourist drawcard, and needed to stay open if possible possible.

“Unfortunately, the Queensland government was forced to step in when the federal government failed to support our theme parks,” Miles said.

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