Village Roadshow adds to theme park holdings

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SYDNEY -- Australian entertainment group Village Roadshow Ltd. is expanding its investments in theme parks, acquiring Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park in Oahu, Hawaii, for $27 million, the company said Wednesday.

The acquisition follows a recent restructure that has seen theme parks become the main focus of Village Roadshow's business, which also includes film production, exhibition and distribution, along with a majority stake in the Austereo radio group.

VRL is the largest operator of theme parks on Australia's Gold Coast, and the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park has synergies with the group's Australian properties.

"The existing park will provide the fundamental infrastructure around which to create a world-class, family-oriented water park experience in a spectacular 30-acre tropical setting to which we can apply our highly successful Gold Coast formula that has created one of the world's most successful water parks," VRL managing director Grahame Burke said.

VRL has grown its Wet N Wild Water World on Queensland's Gold Coast from 137,000 attendances in 1989 to more than 1 million in 2007.

The acquisition will be funded out of VRL's existing cash reserves and undrawn credit facilities, the company said. The deal is expected to be finalized in May.

It comes several days after Village Roadshow announced a half-year net after-tax profit of AUS$45.3 million ($41 million) for the six months ending Dec. 31 up 27% from the year-ago period. Revenue rose 60% to AUS$633 million.

At the same time, the company said it has finalized the merger of its Los Angeles-based film production division, Village Roadshow Picture Group, with U.S.-based Concord Music group to form Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. VRL now holds a 40.9% stake in the new business, which includes its film production division and production joint venture with Warner Bros.
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