December 19, 2017 / 11:22 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Ardent Leisure sells bowling, entertainment division for $123 mln

(Adds background on Dreamworld theme park, company comments)

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Ardent Leisure said on Wednesday it would sell its bowling and entertainment arm to a holding company partially owned by Quadrant Private Equity for A$160 million ($123 million) on a debt and cash-free basis.

“Following an unsolicited offer from The Entertainment and Education Group (the Quadrant holding firm), the decision to divest B&E reflects the attractive price offered and our focus on investing our capital in areas where we can earn the most attractive returns,” Ardent Chairman Gary Weiss said.

The struggling Australian theme park operator also added that the sale of its bowling and entertainment division would help the company to focus on its entertainment centres business in the United States and theme parks divisions.

Ardent has been under pressure since four people were killed when a ride malfunctioned at Dreamworld, Australia’s biggest theme park, in October 2016.

Several executives resigned following the accident, including group chief executive and managing director Simon Kelly in November, and CEO of the bowling and entertainment business Nicole Noye earlier.

The unit being sold does not include Dreamworld.

In the theme parks business, the company said it was looking to add attractions as well as develop surplus land. That, helped by the bowling and entertainment sale, could help drive up earnings in due course, Weiss said.

$1 = 1.3055 Australian dollars Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates

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