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Lion to take $A34 million hit from sale of non-gaming Victorian hotel portfolio

Lion Nathan Ltd will take an $A34 million hit from the sale of its 41 non-gaming hotels in Victoria.

The brewer announced the sale, at a confidential price, to a consortium led by entrepreneurs Michael Thiele & Adam Clark today.

Lion Nathan bought the hotels between 1999-2003 as part of an initiative to grow its Victorian beer business. It’s secured long-term distribution of its brands through the sale process.

Mr Thiele has extensive hospitality industry experience. He established the highly successful Walkabout chain of licensed venues in Britain and was until recently a director & operations director of Regency Inns plc, which operates the 80 Walkabout, Stonehouse & Bar Risa bars & pubs.

He plans to return to Australia as managing director of the company acquiring the Lion portfolio and will be responsible for operation & development of the business.

Mr Clark, based in Melbourne, is a director & major shareholder in the listed Media World Communications Ltd. He established & operated  event management business The Function Point and audiovisual & post-production company Centre Stage Australia.Lion Nathan said the sale price was below carrying value and it would write down the value by $A34 million after tax when it announces its interim result on Tuesday 18 May.

Chief executive Gordon Cairns said hotel ownership wasn’t a core business. “The amount of the writedown can be attributed to a number of factors, including the high price we had to pay to secure a meaningful strategic footprint in Victoria and the challenging competitive environment in Victoria, particularly for non-gaming hotels.”

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