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Business deals

Theme parks are closed, but Australian operator offered $300m bid

Village Roadshow in buyout talks with private equity group BGH

Visitors take in "Aquaman -- The Exhibition" at Warner Bros. Movie World on Queensland's Gold Coast in Australia. (Village Roadshow Theme Parks via AAP)

SYDNEY -- Top Australian theme park operator Village Roadshow has agreed to discuss a takeover offer by domestic private equity group BGH Capital in a deal worth about 470 million Australian dollars ($301 million).

BGH has offered up to A$2.40 per share, according to Village Roadshow's announcement Monday -- a 36% premium over Friday's closing. The theme park operator's stock price has plunged roughly 50% since mid-February.

Village Roadshow operates Sea World and Warner Bros. Movie World, along with other large parks along Australia's eastern Gold Coast. The attractions had drawn visitors from China, Japan and elsewhere before the new coronavirus forced their shutdown. Village Roadshow's movie theaters are also closed.

The company's troubles predate the pandemic. Sales and other income dropped 12.7% to A$1 billion for the year ended June 2019. The movie distribution arm lost money, leading to a consolidated net loss of A$6.5 million.

The COVID-19 fallout caused April's collapse of Virgin Australia, the nation's second-largest airline, dealing a large blow to the domestic travel and leisure industry. BGH has made a shortlist of companies interested in rescuing the carrier.

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