April 12, 2017 / 11:15 AM / 4 months ago

ClubCorp takes itself off the block, CEO to step down

(Reuters) - Golf club operator ClubCorp Holdings Inc (MYCC.N) took itself off the block and said it would not explore strategic alternatives at this time as it did not get a purchase proposal for the entire company.

Shares of the company, one of the largest owners and operators of private golf and country clubs in the United States, fell about 11 percent to $13.75.

ClubCorp, which also reported quarterly sales and profit below estimates, said Chief Executive Eric Affeldt would step down upon the appointment of a successor.

Affeldt had joined ClubCorp in 2006 and helped lead the company's initial public stock offering in 2013.

KSL Capital, a private equity firm, had earlier bought ClubCorp for $1.8 billion in October 2006 and took it public in 2013.

The company said on Wednesday its board has identified an internal candidate for the CEO role and will engage an executive search firm to identify external candidates.

The company had said in January it was exploring strategic alternatives and was reportedly in the process of selling itself amid pressure from shareholder FrontFour Capital Group LLC.

FrontFour had published a letter in September highlighting ClubCorp's low trading multiple compared with leisure industry peers such as Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX.N). It had also questioned its business decisions to pour money into refurbishing golf course acquisitions.

ClubCorp is a serial acquirer in the golf course industry, buying 12 new clubs in 2015 and 2016. It looks to buy locally-owned golf courses and then refurbish them by adding or improving amenities such as up-scale dining and event rooms.

The company said on Wednesday its board's strategic review committee will remain in place to pursue other growth strategies.

ClubCorp and investment banks Jefferies LLC and Wells Fargo & Co, retained as advisers, had held discussions with potential buyers, Chairman John Beckert said on a conference call.

The company, which also said it would acquire Oakhurst Golf and Country Club in Michigan, reported net sales of $221.3 million for the quarter ended March 21.

Excluding items, the company reported a bigger-than-expected loss of 12 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected net sales of $222.1 million and a loss of 7 cents per share in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

ClubCorp, founded in 1957, operates more than 200 properties, including golf and country clubs, business clubs and sports clubs across the U.S., Mexico and China.

Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto and Shounak Dasgupta

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