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SPORTECH RELEASES PRE-CLOSE TRADE UPDATE
Posted 1/23/11 : Current results are up to expectations
The major online and land operator and supplier of pools and tote gaming, Sportech plc, has released its pre-close trading trade update ahead of its preliminary results for the year ended 31 December 2010, which will be announced on 24 March 2011.
Trading across the Football Gaming, Sportech Racing and e-Gaming divisions in the second half of 2010 performed as anticipated, and the group expects to report adjusted pre-tax profits for the year in line with market expectations. The group’s EBITDA is expected to be in the region of GBP 19.7 million for the year.
Sportech continues to generate strong trading cash flows enabling a near 10 percent reduction in net bank debt during the year to approximately GBP72.3 million at the year end - better than market forecasts.
Good progress has been made across the business, the statement reveals. Importantly, the integration of Scientific Games Racing, now renamed Sportech Racing, is at an advanced stage. The company is approaching the end of the extraction of Sportech Racing from Scientific Games Corporation, which has included new physical locations for staff, the adoption of standard financial reporting systems and alignment of the senior management teams across the enlarged Sportech Group. Since completion, Sportech has also extended its direct-to-customer operations, opening two additional Off Track Betting locations in Connecticut, as well as a new partnership location in California.
Sportech Racing has also extended its B2B distribution with a new agreement signed in Chile for the provision of pari-mutuel wagering systems, terminals, interactive wagering platforms and services at the Hipodromo Chile and Club Hipico de Santiago. The agreement spans racetracks, phone betting, Teletracks centres and 201 OTB locations. Delivery is expected in the latter part of 2011.
The group’s investment to modernise its Football Pools business, including an increased product range and enhanced technological capabilities, has enabled it to launch on Ladbrokes.com, the website of one of the UK’s leading betting companies, and Sportech expects to announce further distribution deals during 2011.
"2010 has been a year of transition for our e-Gaming as we have been planning for, and embarking upon, a migration of our bingo, and subsequently casino and poker activities to Playtech, a major shareholder and commercial partner, by Q4 2011," the update reports.
"The group’s joint venture in India with PlayWin, the leading Indian lottery and gaming business, continues to gain momentum, with the group monitoring opportunities regarding the regulatory position in India with keen interest."
Sportech continues to pursue HM Revenues & Custom (HMRC) for a claim of GBP40 million (see previous InfoPowa reports) for the repayment of VAT overpaid in respect of the “Spot the Ball” game from 1979 to 1996. Interest may also be added, which if applicable, would see the principal sum doubled.
The claim has, as anticipated, recently been rejected by HMRC, and Sportech has lodged an appeal to the independent First Tier Tax Tribunal.
Ian Penrose, chief executive of Sportech plc commented: “2010 has been a transformational year for Sportech. We completed a major acquisition of Scientific Games Racing, positioning Sportech as one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of pools and tote gaming. We have also continued to modernise our existing operations. In a tough trading environment the Group continued to generate strong cash flows enabling material debt reduction.”
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