Ardent Leisure to update Dreamworld future this week

Dreamworld was closed on October 25 after four people were killed on a ride. Photo: Glenn Hunt Members of the public left thousands of flowers in the wake of the tragedy. Photo: Mark Jesser
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Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate wants Dreamworld to get the OK of families of the four victims from last month’s tragedy before reopening the theme park, according to Sky News reports.

“It’s been a difficult time,” Mr Tate said.

“The timing of reopening Dreamworld – I’d leave that to the management of Dreamworld – they know what to do but I would ask that they talk to the families and get their OK on that.”

This comes as police on Monday handed back the site of the fatal October 25 accident to Dreamworld’s owners.

The fate of the theme park will become clearer this week as the owner, Ardent Leisure, work towards a reopening in the lead-up to the vital holiday season.

The embattled Ardent is expected to clarify the timetable for the park’s operations in coming days, after having gone off media “air” in respect for the families who held funerals this week for the four people killed at the park.

A spokesman confirmed the group would be making an announcement on Wednesday regarding Dreamworld.

The Gold Coast will be inundated with “schoolies” in coming weeks, although theme parks are not generally one of the main attractions for that age group.

After a torrid two weeks that saw the Ardent share price drop by as much as 30 per cent, the shares have stayed around $2 as investors await further news.

It comes as the new Ardent chairman George Venardos took over on Monday from the retiring Neil Balnaves, who held the position for 15 years.

The group held its annual meeting two days after the accident, when the board and chief executive Deborah Thomas said losses from the closure would be “significant” on the group’s overall earnings.

The fate of the new Lego store, which has been billed as a major drawcard for the park, is also in abeyance until the park reopens.

A spokesperson said: “At this stage we have no new information to share on the planned Lego-certified store opening. For further information related to the park, please reach out to Dreamworld Theme Park directly.”

Dreamworld is one part of the group’s theme park business, including Sky Point and White Water World, which is about 22 per cent of total revenue, but it has become a sentiment and reputation issue.

An investor, who declined to be named, said recently that only when the park reopens will they be able to gauge whether the earnings loss is down enough to justify the share price sell down, currently about 30 per cent, since the tragedy.

While it is tipped to remain a theme park in the medium term, the site spans 850,000 square metres and sits in a growth corridor for residential housing.

“Our initial view is that Ardent’s carrying value for Dreamworld of $235 million would be supported under this scenario,” Credit Suisse analysts said.

Property agents have said the site could also be redeveloped into a mixed-use hotel and retail area to connect with the nearby Coomera town centre.

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